Monday, June 27, 2011

Victory Gardens and a Greener Future - Not for Los Angeles

It is happening. All over the state, people are tearing out their water sucking lawns and replace them with edibles.

The City of Santa Monica gives residents "Cash for Grass" if they get rid of their lawns, sponsors workshops, and residents can even win a complete landscaping make-over; check out for more information.

Inspired by the current on-going recession, increasing food prices, poor nutrition in store-bought produce, genetically modified foods everywhere and not to forget a longing to be more in touch with nature has brought many people to bring out the shovels and dig in. Mother Earth that is.

Obviously not everyone is a master gardener and people are looking for help and support. In Los Angeles is a fabulous group called LA Green Grounds, who since November 2010 put in a garden a month for a resident somewhere in South LA. Where there was lawn or dirt before, there will be a planted garden after the troops leave.

Check out their website on

Growing your own vegetables in your backyard is nothing new. Back in the beginning of the last century, almost every household grew their own produce in so-called 'victory gardens'. Born out of necessity due to the limited food supply during the war in the US, UK, Canada and Germany, these gardens soon became a civil morale booster, making the gardener independent from food supply limitations while at the same time rewarding him / her with amazing produce.

Just like then it is today: Ask people who are raising their own produce and they will eagerly tell you all about their adventures in gardening, how their garden created community, they will invite you to take a look at their garden and most likely share some of their produce with you. Do they feel empowered and rewarded for the work they put in? You bet!

While citizens everywhere applaude this grass roots revolution and the City of Santa Monica even promoting a lawn-less gardening approach with numerous financial aid programs and workshops, the city of Los Angeles holds on to the water-suckers.

Ron in South Los Angeles has been cited by the city for the transformation of his parkway into a garden as being "non-compliant". 

The City guidelines for parkways (that strip between the sidewalk and the street in front of your house) say that you must have "turf" (lawn grass) or "turf-like" planting, i.e., nothing over 3-4" high.  I guess they're afraid that someone may lurk behind the rosemary or trip over the cabbages.  If a person wants to plant something other, (s)he must submit a plan, with a fee of course, beginning at $400!  For something more elaborate, the fee begins at $4,000.
Says Florence Nishida, master gardener and activist with LA Green Grounds, "We have asked for a meeting with the district Councilman, but he is always "in a meeting" and his deputy asked for photos, but since then has not responded."

Bear in mind that most of the vegetables are so-called annuals, lasting only for about four months and then are being replaced.

So, I am wondering whether Ron would need to submit new plans for every season?

This citation for creating a garden, that people in the neighborhood love, is in particular sad because Mayor Villaraignosa has announced plans for a more green and sustainable Los Angeles.

And while neighbor Santa Monica hopped onto the green bus and walks the walk in becoming a leader in sustainability, Los Angeles seems to be merely talking the talk.

"Nature never says one thing and wisdom another." Decimus Junius Juvenalis

No comments:

Post a Comment