New Roots for LA Community Gardens

Community gardener Irvin Alonso picks a handful of ripe red tomatoes.   photo by: Newly Paul

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Urban farmers getting rooftop farming off the ground
Sep. 17, 2009|Molly Peterson|KPCC

Interest in urban farming is growing even faster than late summer corn. Throughout Los Angeles County, community gardens have sprouted by the thousands, and there’s a shortage of room for newcomers. KPCC's Molly Peterson found would-be gardeners with creative solutions for landing patches of tillable soil.

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Web site fertilizes shared gardens in Southern California
Sep. 18, 2009|Molly Peterson|KPCC

Urban gardeners in the Southland see opportunity in every median strip and patch of dirt. These days they have to; there’s a waiting list for community garden space in Los Angeles County. A business owner in the city of Vernon has seeded new planting partnerships with the L.A. Community Garden Council. KPCC's Molly Peterson says they found common ground through online social networking.

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In late-summer, late-afternoon sun, Irvin Alonso claims the prize for his wife's work tending a plot in the Fountain Community Gardens: handfuls of sweet small tomatoes, a fist of radishes, and fat, fragrant squash. For a little time weeding and watering, he says he's looking forward to eating well.

From Santa Monica to North Hollywood, community gardens in Los Angeles County are bursting with bounty. They're also packed with waiting lists of would-be gardeners. It's a longstanding problem in a city laced with pockets of green space where green-thumbed Angelenos hold tight to their claims – sometimes passing down garden plots through families. Community garden council leaders say the problem's growing faster now, with the current economy sprouting new interest in urban farming. Still, that challenge is being met in a number of ways in Los Angeles.

Alissa Kueker and Danielle Marie Holland think things are looking up - or, at the very least, their Rocknroll Community Gardens aim to do that. They want to create a vibrant community of art, music, fruits and vegetables on Silver Lake and Echo Park rooftops. Kueker says she's inspired by New York, where she lived last, and San Francisco and Chicago, where rooftop gardens are more common.

Regional community garden leaders, frustrated with oversized demand, are now fertilizing garden sharing agreements. A new social networking site matches eager green thumbs with landowners green at planting and willing to share their soil.

Through stories, an audio slideshow and a video, KPCC's Molly Peterson takes a look at a couple of ways gardeners are seeking fertile ground in Southern California communities.