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Highland Park Adds a Garden

by Milagro Allegro Community Garden Wednesday, May. 13, 2009 at 2:49 PM

Highland Park recently added the newest community garden to the growing list of those in and around Los Angeles, when the Milagro Allegro Community Garden broke ground on February 21, 2009.

The project is being spearheaded by two neighbors and community members, Oscar Duardo and Nicole Gatto, who happened to speak of their mutual dream of building a garden one day about two years ago when walking by the lot where the garden will be located. The idea was not a new one: at least two other efforts had preceded Duardo’s and Gatto’s over the last decade; the lot is the property of the City of Los Angeles and had been vacant for 30 years. “We have plenty of liquor stores and fast food restaurants in our neighborhood,” says Gatto, an Epidemiologist and Public Health professional, “but not an equal number of options to access fresh fruit and vegetables.” “Our mission is to be a center of peace and beauty in the community where the cultivation of vegetables, fruits and flowers as well as creative ideas, artistic expression and neighborly values may take place,” Gatto explained. After a year of building community support by talking to neighbors and stakeholders in the community, speaking with local community organizations and working with Councilman Ed Reyes, Gatto and Duardo signed a lease for the Milagro Allegro Community Garden on February 5. “We approached the Councilman, and he made it happen,” Gatto said. Duardo and Gatto attribute some of the success of their efforts to a heightened awareness of environmental issues among the general public, a greater interest in health, and a political climate that is more conducive to making green issues and education priorities. The garden will integrate urban farming, art and education at its 10,000 square foot site, located at 115 S. Ave. 56 behind the Highland theater. The garden will feature raised bed garden plots that will be available for interested community members. Organic gardening, composting and recycling will be emphasized, as will be growing heirloom varieties of vegetables and native species. Plans for the garden also include a community gathering space where classes, workshops and events may be held. Gatto and Duardo will also encourage local schools to incorporate the garden into curriculum or after-school activities. The garden plans to officially open in late April, in time for Earth Day. For more information, please check the Milagro Allegro Community Garden website: www.hpgarden.org
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Garden Flowers

by green Sunday, May. 17, 2009 at 5:17 PM

Congratulations. With the wide variety of native plants in So. Cal, it seems appropriate to suggest filling the garden with native veggies, easy to grow organically, and maybe some Flowering Shrubs around the borders to keep the area bright and cheery throughout the year.
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City Should Do Free Native Plants

by nobody Sunday, May. 24, 2009 at 12:15 PM

With the current water crisis, the City should consider growing native plants, and then helping people replace part of their lawn with native plants, for "free". That is, the City should subsidize the plants, and show people how to care for them. If the residential "brown lawns" are replaced with native plants they will require no water at all after a few months.

They could target the working class communities, which are the least likely to know about native plants, and least able to afford them at this time. (Let's face it, the typical native plant nut is a college educated eco-science geek with a white collar or scientific job. It's not the working class person of color or the immigrant.) These homes are, today, the most impacted by the economic downturn, and their communities will be suffering increases in negative things like drug/gang activity, homelessness, etc.

This could also be a pro-active job creation program. Take unused land, and turn them into City operated native plant nurseries, and pay someone to maintain the nursery. The worker gains valuable skills that, for the forseeable future, will be in demand. The residents benefit from one more person off of unemployment, and a source of "free" plants.

The City could contract out the landscaping to companies that are probably seeing a small downturn in their landscape maintenance. The companies would gain valuable native plant experience, and could sell their clients on the idea if/when we have an economic upturn a few years from now (I hope!)

Turn the people suffering today into an ecological vanguard. Instead of pitting the ecos against the working class, create an eco-worker alliance to implement money-saving, water-saving ecological habits.
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