I’ll be honest here: I love to garden. Not just any kind of garden, but specifically growing food. I am completely nuts about trying weird vegetable varieties and unusual edibles.
Community Garden at Holy Nativity
I designed the Community Garden at Holy Nativity, and for eleven years I managed “what went in the ground.” This charity-style community garden is on the grounds of an Episcopal church (83rd St & Dunbarton, LA 90045), but the garden is maintained by a mixed group of volunteers: neighbors, students, and people who just like to garden. You can follow current events at this garden on Instagram at #gardenatHN . Some of this garden’s features:
- Main “production” garden
- Crop rotations
- Rainwater harvesting features
- Mini-orchard of fruit trees
- Herb garden
- Cutting gardens
- Westchester Community Oven
- Pizza garden
- Meditative labyrinth (now removed)
Emerson Avenue Community Garden
The Emerson Avenue Community Garden (Emerson Avenue & 80th Place, LA 90045) combines a school garden with a traditional community plot-style garden and a community pocket park. I designed the Emerson garden in 2010, managed many of the community work days to build the garden, and wrote many of the garden’s founding documents and agreements. I served on the initial board, and navigated political tides to get the garden built. Today the Emerson Avenue Community Garden runs as its own nonprofit organization, and it is wonderful to participate in their events and happenings. You can learn more about this gardens current events via their website www.eacgc.org Some of the features of the Emerson garden:
- Mandala of beds for school classes
- Outdoor classroom seating area of cob and urbanite
- Native plants in a walking spiral
- On-site composting facilities
- Fruit trees
Through all this gardening, I’ve become a plant breeder. I’m “localizing” certain vegetable plant varieties — adapting them to Los Angeles growing conditions. To support this project, I’m selling seeds under the Cityscape Seeds label. You can find Cityscape Seeds online at my Etsy shop, and in-person at Matt Van Diepen’s Homegrown Gardens stand at Mar Vista Farmers Market (LA 90066) on Sundays.
Seeds of Hope
I helped design an education curriculum for the Seeds of Hope project of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. The goal of this project was to turn a lot of urban land owned by the church into urban agriculture and community garden spaces. With this project in mind, I put together the booklet Your Community Garden, which outlined my suggestions for what to consider as you begin to build a community garden.
Abundant Harvests garden booklets
If you attend one of my garden classes, you’ll probably hear me say that East Coast and British garden books aren’t very good guides for growing food in the year-round growing season of Southern California. Some years back, when I found there was a distinct lack of good info, I started to write my own. For more about this booklet series, see the Publications page.
My Home Garden
My home garden (in Los Angeles) is always changing. It is a constant and ongoing experiment. At home is where I push the limits of a plant, to learn things like how little water it can get by with, how much sun, how much abandonment. I also experiment with plant communities (guilds, what-grows-well-with-what) and bird-and-pollinator-attractant plants. The knowledge gained at home is reflected in all my classes and writing. Some of the diverse plants I grow/have grown include:
Amara/Ethiopian kale, apples (low-chill Anna, Dorsett Golden), artichokes, arugula (regular and wasabi), basil (conventional and African), blackeyed peas, cilantro, chayote, chicory/Italian dandelions, calendula, California poppies, clarkia, cosmos, collard greens, Egyptian walking onions, fava beans, feverfew, figs, grapefruit, Meyer lemon, nopales, oregano (Greek, Mexican), peaches, pineapple guavas/feijoa, pomegranates, snowpeas, strawberries (conventional and alpine), strawberry guavas, tangerines (various), thyme, tomatoes (various), Tromboncino squash, Welsh onions, Yoeme watermelons … and much more!
The best way to learn about my home garden is to follow my Instagram feed.