Community garden seen as small victory amid COVID-19; renamed Crown Victory Garden

During World War I and II, communities across the country banded together to grow produce to supply the Homefront. These gardens became known as victory gardens, and were often seen as a patriotic symbol to support the troops fighting overseas.

Today, the world is plunged in an ongoing struggle against COVID-19, and although we’re a ways away from a coronavirus vaccine, volunteers who came together during the spring and summer months to complete their community garden at 914 Redondo Ave. see the accomplishment as a small win over the hardships the virus has brought.

Renamed the Crown Victory Garden, members of the Long Beach Organic nonprofit group and Councilwoman Susie Price hosted a small event Saturday declaring the garden complete after months of work that was, at one point, delayed by the pandemic.

What was once a dilapidated vacant property is now an urban farm. The garden director with Long Beach Organic, Joseph Corso, said the project cost about $20,000 to complete. It was privately funded through donations to the nonprofit. Councilwoman Price, who oversees the 3rd District, also donated to the garden.

Volunteers and gardeners converse at a community garden at 914 Redondo Ave. on Saturday, Sept. 5 2020. Photo by Sebastian Echeverry.

The garden’s property owner applied for the city’s Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone, which provides tax breaks to vacant lot owners who contract with the city to use their lot for agricultural purposes.

Long Beach Organic won the bid for the land, and the lease was signed in August 2019. It took six months to clean up the plot of land and begin construction. The project was nearly finished by February, but by March, the spread of the virus forced lockdowns and social distancing guidelines, halting—at least temporarily—the project.

“I thought, ‘This is a disaster,'” Corso said. But seeing volunteers, masked and in small groups, come back to rebuild the garden gave Corso hope. “To me, it was like a miracle.”

People can apply through www.longbeachorganic.org to rent a plot of land in one of the eight gardens Long Beach Organic oversees. It costs $40 twice a year for a 10×10 plot. There is also a $25 membership fee. In total, it comes out to about $105. 

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Sebastian Echeverry is the North Long Beach reporter through the Report for America program. Philanthropic organizations pledged to cover the local donor portion of his grant-funded position with the Long Beach Post. If you want to support Sebastian's work, you can donate to his Report for America position at lbpost.com/support.
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