Venice, The Garden of Eden?

Gardens2 Gardens1By: Charlotte Purein
Like me you may have seen garden boxes mysteriously popping up all over Venice and are wondering who is responsible for spreading the veggie love. Biking the other day I happened upon a group of locals unloading sacks of organic soil, compost, worm castings, seedlings, and heavy garden boxes from an old pick up truck at the corner of 7th & Flower. Asking how I could get involved I was directed to Grant Gottfurcht, founder of the Yoga Collective on Rose in Venice, who planted the seed for the project, Community Healing Gardens. His intention is to unite everyone in the community for the common cause of providing organic, nutritious food for children and families in need.
“We believe that by coming together to provide our children with healthy organic food we can heal our communities, one another and the world around us.” states Grant. The healthy food is grown from organic seeds and is pesticide free.
Word has quickly spread as passersby stop to say, ‘Thank you!’ and make inquiries. A willing team of volunteer neighbors has started showing up to build, plant, and nurture the gardens. CHG secures a front yard on planting days and provides coffee, water and snacks, as well as a table for local kids to create art work that is later laminated and posted on the boxes. Uplifting message art signs such as ‘Remember Magic,’ and ‘Mother Earth Loves You’ completes the vibe and spirit of the project.
Currently 4th, 5th, 6th, & 7th streets are planted. By the end of the year the goal is 400 veggie boxes and 999 fruit trees! That would make Venice a present day Garden of Eden, minus the talking snake, ( then again you never know, this is Venice ). Can you imagine the warm and fuzzy feeling that will be generated? In addition to food for people Grant has agreed to plant milkweed, the only food for the Monarch caterpillar. As the project progresses a master map will be created showing box and tree locations. I envision families biking around Venice, filling their baskets with harvested goodies as butterflies flit about. ‘Hey neighbor, trade you a bell pepper for a tomato!’ Now that is the true definition of a sharing economy, no centralized profit, the fruits of our labor benefiting the greater good. To ensure children and families in need in the Venice community are reached CHG’s staff will harvest the boxes and distribute food baskets. Their staff of master gardeners and landscapers are responsible for overall maintenance.
A lot goes into manifesting a ‘public garden’ of this size. Lifting the boxes from the truck to site is a 4 man muscle job. Soil recipes vary depending on what is planted. Blueberries get an acidic soil treatment and a special blue glass arty soil covering. This IS Venice you know, man does not live by gardening alone! Other boxes receive 14 bags of organic soil, 6 organic compost, and 4 worm castings, mixed like cake dough with a wood chip frosting. Multiply that 400 times over. A lot of strawberries were planted, beans, beets, squash, tomatoes, lettuce, and more. Heirloom Glass Gem corn, which came by way of seeds from our local seed saving library, SLOLA, lives up to its name with blue, purple, red, and orange kernels. Seedlings came from the organic nursery, Two Dog, and the bio-dynamic compost from Malibu Compost. Milkweed comes from the seeds of a mother plant that flourished at the former Venice Community Garden. Now our community garden will be the streets of Venice. Come one come all! ( Really, please join in! )
The impact on the community can already be seen. Inspired neighbors are sprucing up their adjacent property with flowers and removing faded vegetation. People are coming out of their homes and saying hello. Random folks drop off pizza for the volunteers. How cool is that?
Want to get involved in creating a harmonious community? Here are some options: 1) become a box sponsor, 2) just show up & plant, 3) offer your parkway space, 4) drop off some comida, or 5) just show up and be present!
Be on the look out for a future fundraiser in August and a community planting block party. Plantings are on generally on Saturdays from 11am-1:00, but check the website to confirm. Working together as a community Venice will be an inspiring example for others to follow. The wave of love starts in the west and flows outward.
Check the website for planting day info: Email: Media and event contact Nicole: Free Monarch milkweed seeds for kids:

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