Whole Life Magazine

October/November 2013

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/185526

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Page 21 of 43

"G ardening is definitely a passion of mine," says Julie Beals. "It keeps me grounded. When I tend plants, I feel like I'm contributing to the universe in positive and beneficial ways." Notably, Beals—now executive director of the Los Angeles Community Garden Council—has never taken a formal class in gardening. "I simply learned from my grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends," she explains. "Learning to garden is a lifelong process." Beals' early experience also taught her that communal gardening strengthens families and encourages intergenerational and cross-cultural relationships, so when she saw a need for true community in struggling neighborhoods, she helped start Milagro Allegro in Highland Park and MariposaNabi in Koreatown, working the soil and tending plants. The gardens are not just for adults; local kids get a jumpstart here through the Little Green Fingers program. "Community gardens have given me the opportunity to meet incredible people who are passionate about growing their own food," says Beals. ON A QUEST o experience a community garden for myself, I ventured out on a recent Saturday morning in search of the nearest one, which happened to be the Granada Hills Salad Bowl Garden Club on Rinaldi Street, located on land owned by the Department of Water and Power. Giant corn stalks reached for the sky, blackberry vines crawled over the chain link fence and tall tomato plants seemed to pop up everywhere. I made my way through the gate and walked down a path with garden plots on either side. T 22 wholelifetimesmagazine.com TAKE BACK ~THE~ SOIL COMMUNITIES FIND GRACE IN GARDENING BY JUDITH A. STOCK It was early morning but I could hear someone rustling among the plants. It was Robert Olander, who'd been picking and bagging his tomatoes to take home. "Nothing tastes better than a fresh tomato. Nothing," said Olander, who's worked his 30 X 40 plot of land for the last 15 years. "This year I grew 37 tomato plants along with eggplant, peppers, green beans, chiles and squash. And since I grow lots of vegetables, I end up giving away much of it to friends and neighbors." Another earlybird, Max Jimenez, a long-time gardener who planted his Mexican ranch before coming to the States, told me he came there every afternoon after work. This is his first year of growing food for his family in a community garden, because, he said, "My garden here is so much better than my garden at home. The topsoil here makes all the difference." He's pleased with his crop of green beans, zucchini, chiles, tomatoes, sweet peas, lettuce, cabbage, onions, lima beans, carrots and radishes. FOSTERING A COMMUNITY GARDEN MOVEMENT ommunity gardens can be located in all kinds of settings—urban, suburban, rural or even schoolyards or land owned by the city, county or privately. For musician Finian Makepeace, community gardens are a way to "inspire myself and others on how close we can be to the food we eat, and how we can directly impact our world by working with the soil under our feet." He also finds it "gratifying and healing" to garden. "Chief inspirations officer" of the Kiss the Ground plot in C

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