We figured that Earth Day week would be a good time to address the subject of community gardens and urban farming in and around Echo Park.
First, if you are interested in finding a community garden near you, I suggest consulting the Los Angeles Community Garden Council website. There aren’t any LACGC-affiliated gardens in Echo Park itself, but there are a few located pretty close to us. The closest one is Jarden del Rio located in Elysian Heights.
The LA Community Garden Council also uses a site called GrowFriend that helps link up growers who need land with those who have land and don’t garden. If you go to the website and create a profile, you can view a map of what and who’s available in your area.
Second, some exciting news just came to us from Tara over at Silver Lake Farms. Since 2003, Tara has been growing flowers, herbs and vegetables in her backyard and selling them at local farmer’s markets. In 2009 L.A. City’s Department of Building and Safety told her that she would have to stop or pay a fine/serve six months in jail. They told her that what she was doing was illegal because it wasn’t “Truck Gardening.” This means that it’s illegal to sell anything grown in residential gardens unless it’s a vegetable.
Last year, Tara formed a group called Urban Farming Advocates. At the end of last month they brought the Food & Flowers Freedom Act to Van Nuys City Hall in an effort to legalize urban farming.
Commissioners voted across the board to allow fruit, flowers, nuts and seedlings to be grown at home for sale off-site – at local farmers’ markets for example.
There are a few more official stages to go before the Food and Flower Freedom Act is a done deal. There will be a few more hearings, where public support will be just as critical.
Go to the Silver Lake Farms website to support the Food & Flower Freedom Act or to sign up for any of Tara’s gardening workshops or cooking classes.