Gardens of Gratitude Dig It in Venice

By Joey Marie Soto

Last weekend 170 volunteers installed 66 edible gardens at neighbors’ homes, schools, businesses, churches and one rehab center. Gardens of Gratitude just had it’s second annual event. This group, founded by Sean Jennings, consists of committed community leaders with members who planned for two months leading up to the weekend. All over the West Side with many sites in Venice there were people helping people getting vegetables into the ground.

What a concept? Let’s get together to take back our health and community! It was such fun! With the event on Saturday and Sunday one can devote the whole weekend to the transition or simply an hour. I found it was nice to garden on Saturday, do a little on Sunday and then simply rove around from one site to another. In a matter of hours we were able to visit five in all. One of my favorite stops was the United Methodist Church with its skate ramp in the back and veggie garden along the sidewalk. This church and its Pastor’s gotta love them!

Stroller White delivered seven loads of compost.  “I loved hanging out with the people, their enthusiasm, their gratitude. It felt good being a part of this whole thing,” White said. He helped Aaron Nichols get his raised beds started by planting lettuces, tomatoes, strawberries, cabbage, cauliflower, herbs, eggplant and squash. Aaron “felt super grateful for the free labor but really dug the connection of meeting like-minded people and watching the community coming together for a common goal, in service to one another. A dream come true!”

Sonya Pritzker, a Venice resident mentioned she was “overwhelmed by the volunteer turn out. I posted it on my Facebook, told my family, everyone supported the idea, but when it came to the work this amazing group of volunteers showed up.” Sonia and her husband Jeffrey are happy their beautiful newborn Nayda Rose will grow up with fresh veggies.

Last year 14 people showed up to my home in Venice, with tools, ready to work. I kept it going and all year I have been eating veggies out of the garden last year’s event installed. That is why I decided to get involved again this year! It has been an easy sell getting folks interested in the event. I am so grateful for all the support and interest. From the five sites to the after party, there was an overall feeling of pride and love. Together we made a difference last weekend!

Arpod Kaali organized a fundraising party that was held in Venice at the home of two lovely young female artists several weeks before the event. Having a large garden of their own, they decided to put in a community garden on the sidewalk on Cabrillo. This gave many of us the idea to plan a series of garden parties in the future. There is talk about doing the main event twice a year. Imagine planting a nutritious garden on a Sunday afternoon instead of the usual barbecue and beer; or wine and cheese! Why not sign up to volunteer and get your garden going today?!  For more information please visit :