I thought I would share this post I wrote on the Slanguage website over here on LA east side because I felt that this community garden was pretty special.
Slanguage got a great opportunity to go visit and explore the San Pedro community garden. This 3 ½ acre land is owned by the city of Los Angeles and has been around over 40 years. For a yearly fee anybody can start a garden. The garden is fitted with hoses for easy access to water, mulch is also available. However, not just anybody can maintain their roots here; some gardeners have managed to sustain their plots for up to thirty years.
More after the jump
Growing up in San Pedro this piece of land was always in sight but I never knew much about it. I just knew it was a community garden, other then that I really did not pay much attention.
The opportunity to visit the garden arose when fellow Slangster, Betty Marin mentioned that her father rented a plot in the garden and had been tending to it for about twenty years. My curiosity sparked up and got I excited for the special field trip.
The day was perfect to scout the garden. The structure of the garden is not like many. Since it sits on a hill each plot is elevated. There are various trials and mazes going through and up to the top of the hill. Depending on the plot each one had a different arrangement. Most plots where fenced in by chain link or various wood/metal panels.Beautiful foliage and vines lined many of the fences and mazes. Some of the trails and garden plots also had make-shift structures giving you a feeling of being back in some Rancho in Mexico. As we walked the trails the smell of roasted elotes (corn) filled the air, gardener Pablo had started roasting some fresh picked corn on a barbecue grill.
Aurelio Marin-–– has tended his plot at the San Pedro community garden for around twenty years. He said he heard about the garden by word of mouth and has been coming two days a week ever since. He enjoys gardening here because it brings a sense of tranquility and relaxation. More importantly it reminds him of his native homeland of Zacatecas, Mexico. The idea of harvesting, planting and working the land was something him and many of the other men grew up learning back home. Senor Marin was currently growing “avas” what are better known as Fava Beans. He also had a patch of onions, guava trees, and noples (prickly cactus) and had just finished clearing away some chayotes. However, depending on the season the garden is always changing. Senor Marin mentioned that some mornings the other men will have a fresh pot of menudo or chicharrones ready to share with the gardeners.
Senor Marin showing us how the land is dug
Pablo…. is a native from Jalisco and has been gardening at what he called, “El serrito” for about 30 years. He was definitely a veteran of the place and knew the ends and outs of the garden. His space was amazing he grew every type of vegetable and fruit you could think of depending on the season. He also had a make-shift patio complete with chairs, tables, and barbecue pit. As we explored his garden you seemed to forget that the 110 freeway and dusty refineries are right on the other side. The ambiance was peaceful. Pablo was also the designated “captain” every two years the gardeners have a meeting and designate someone as the captain. The captain is in charge of making sure everyone keeps their plots clean and garden maintained. Also any complaints or concerns would go to him. Pablo said he comes to el serrito everyday from 6 a.m. till about 4 p.m. He said that this place gives him relaxation a peace of mind also to get away from the wife (he laughs). The garden is also a reminder of life in Mexico, it is his homeland within the city. He said they frequently have carne asadas, with fresh salsa, and cilantro from the gardens.
Stories of the Rancho…
Smog in the background…
Resident chihuahua: Cacahuete
Tools of the trade
They got their station all hooked up…