Environmental Change-Makers has created several organic, water-wise food gardens. These emphasize local and reused construction materials, and are often put together on a “shoestring” budget. Most have been built with community volunteers or sharing-economy labor.
The Community Garden at Holy Nativity
This garden was ECM’s first major public garden. It remains at the heart of our organization. It is a high-production food garden which feeds the needy plus helps educate people about the skills of growing food. (See “Why we grow food” – pdf) The fruits and vegetables grown in the Garden are donated to Food Pantry LAX or Westside Food Bank.
ECM teaches Organic Vegetable Gardening Classes each month from this garden. (Calendar)
The Garden is maintained by a mixed team of local neighbors, food activists, social justice activists, and people who just like to garden. The harvest team gathers every Thursday from a casual 4:30 till dusk, and volunteers are welcomed. Participating in the Thursday harvest team is a great way to learn hands-on alongside garden veterans. Please phone (310) 670-4777 to volunteer.
Emerson Avenue Community Garden
ECM was one of the founding organizations that created this garden. Located at Orville Wright Middle School (LAUSD), the one-acre property had been the site of ag programs through then 1970s but had fallen into more than a decade of disuse. Beginning in 2009, ECM worked with school teacher Paula Cohen, LAUSD, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s office, Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office, and other organizations to bring this garden back to life.
The plan merges school garden with traditional plot-style community garden and community pocket park.
The garden is being built out by volunteer labor (as of May 2013, more than 10,000 hours of volunteer labor!). One section of the space is a school garden with plots for classes. Another section will eventually have traditional community garden plots, available through lottery. Additional features include a native plants garden to attract native pollinators and other “good bugs,” an urbanite and cob outdoor classroom, a mini-orchard of fruit trees, and a 1/5 mile walking track.
In 2011, ECM segued this garden into its own separate nonprofit organization.
ECM teaches organic vegetable gardening classes each month, usually at the site of the Community Garden at Holy Nativity. These classes are open to the general public. The topics rotate throughout the year, and are selected based upon what is seasonally appropriate for our Southern California gardens.
Sample topics: Introduction to Organic Vegetable Gardening; Planning Your Autumn Vegetable Garden; Attracting the Good Bugs to your Garden; Vegetable Crop Rotations; Water Wisdom for High-Yield Gardens, and much more.
See the class calendar for specific dates and upcoming topics.
In connection with these vegetable gardening classes, Joanne P has written many handouts and how-to guides. These are now being posted online at ECM’s Scribd page.
Sample how-to guides: ”What to plant when in Southern California”; “How to get rid of Bermuda grass”; “Do-It-Yourself Soil Tests”‘; “High-Yield Vegetable Gardens”; “Vegetables gone WILD” (previously titled “Feral Vegetables”); “How to rotate crops in your home garden”; “How to have success with seedlings,” with more coming soon!
Our garden classes and gardening information have been so popular that people wanted to have the info “all in one place.” Thus ECM co-founder Joanne P has begun publishing Abundant Harvests, a series of gardening booklets.
Booklet titles include: ”The Quest for Higher Yields”; “The Secrets of Soil Building”; “Water Wisdom for High-Yield Gardens”; “Your Community Garden: Tips for Success”, with more coming soon!
These are available at most ECM events and gatherings, as well as at ECM’s Etsy page.
Seeds of Hope
ECM is part of a coalition that is helping the “Seeds of Hope” program of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. The Diocese hopes to encourage Southern California churches to use their land to grow food. Other key members of this coalition include the Jewish organization Netiya.
ECM wrote “Your Community Garden: Tips for Success” for this program.
Seed Freedom LA
ECM is part of a coalition of seed activists and food activists who are forwarding the international work of Vandana Shiva here in our local Los Angeles. Other members of this coalition include the Seed Library of Los Angeles and bloggers from LocalBlu. One project of this coalition is a campaign to have the City of Los Angeles declared a GMO-free zone with respect to seeds and what is grown here.
Why we grow food
ECM understands that we must put in place the skills and the infrastructure which are appropriate to the new future. This preparation includes learning how to grow food, and converting the open spaces between our city buildings into gardens that grow food for people. All of our garden projects have been carried out with this in mind.