Images courtesy of Long Beach Organic.
For over seven years, the Wrigley Village Community Garden has served as a healthy food haven for more than 20 households, at any given time. What was an empty lot in the 2000 block of Pacific Avenue became a place where locals from the neighborhood would gather to grow fresh food, learn about each other and host many a party and fundraiser.
Long Beach Organic (LBO), the nonprofit organization whose mission involves finding empty lots to transform into community gardens, announced earlier this month that their lease is up for the Wrigley space, which had been owned by real estate investor Annette LaBarca before she recently sold the property.
“We are extremely grateful for the seven years that Annette has given us—it isn’t everyone who would say yes to a group of gardeners using their property,” stated the announcement. “As a parting gift, Annette has made a generous donation to LBO to cover moving expenses.”
LaBarca also donated $2,000 to LBO to assist their move to a different plot, an opportunity located 10 blocks south, courtesy of Michael Wylie of Park Pacific Tower, a nonprofit that provides subsidized senior housing in downtown Long Beach. Wylie contacted LBO about the property, which he had recently purchased without immediate plans to develop.
The initial budget to get the new garden going is $5,000, according to LBO Garden Director Joseph Corso. This includes installing an irrigation system, lumber and other materials used to build beds, decomposed granite for pathways, tools and more. Park Pacific Tower made a pledge of $5,000 toward those building costs.
The benefits of a garden to a community, aside from the obvious positive of being able to grow food, are countless.
“Besides the obvious, gardeners have the pride of authorship in what they grow, a healthy physical activity, and a chance to be with nature outdoors is an urban environment,” said Corso. “Also, they meet neighbors they would not otherwise meet. Since the love of gardening cuts across all social lines, gardeners have a chance to mingle with other ethnicities and other generations.”
Gardeners can also learn about other cultures through each member’s varying cuisines. Meanwhile, as far as the environment is concerned, a garden absorbs water and carbon and cuts back on the cost of packaging and food transportation, said Corso. Taking an empty lot or a “problem lot” as Corso called it, and transforming it into a garden is enjoyable for everyone, not just those tilling the soil.
The first step in building the new garden will involve a community building day on Sunday, October 23rd from 9:00PM to noon, followed by a potluck lunch. Everyone is invited to volunteer and join the prospective gardeners and volunteers from Cal State Long Beach’s Delta Chi fraternity. Tasks will include building beds, making compost and assembling an arbor.
The lot is located at 326 West 10th Street.