Green Grounds brings edible gardens to South LA

Team members & recipients (Hyder, Neon Tommy)

Green Grounds team and gardeners | Tahsin Hyder

Katie Guevara and David Guevara Rosillo loved the idea of growing their own food but never had the budget or knowhow. Now, having spent hours a day knuckle-deep in soil, those times of uncertainty are long behind them.

“This is the last strawberry plant going in, and we’re all really exhausted, and we just can’t wait to eat it, and eat everything else we planted,” said Guevara.

South Los Angeles is known for its lack of  fresh, organic produce. Upmarket grocers like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s don’t have South L.A. locations, and while the number of farmers markets has increased near Downtown Los Angeles, South L.A. still has just a few.

Locals also struggle for access to fresh food for other reasons, said Florence Nishida, founder of LA Green Grounds. Her organization aims to bring people together around the common cause of healthy eating through edible gardening.

“Our mission is… to produce a garden and build something that’s beautiful but also yields bounty that is healthy, fresh and pesticide-free,” said Nishida.Green Grounds especially hopes to foster community bonding around food access in L.A.’s low-income neighborhoods. That’s why the group helped Guevara and Guevara Rosillo, who are married, to install a backyard garden in South L.A. Once the two harvest their fruits and vegetables, they’ve promised to open a “farm stand” in their front yard for their whole neighborhood to enjoy.

But assembling a garden, which typically takes a day, is not the end of the work. Volunteer Sachiko Speaks said many gardens didn’t thrive in their first year. That’s why LA Green Grounds is doing follow-up visits to educate new gardeners who have joined the effort along the way.

For example, volunteers like Steve Wong teach gardeners that certain plants, like deep-rooted native plants , require less-frequent watering but they must water the plants for longer time periods. It’s this kind of attention to detail that can help a garden thrive, Wong said.

For Green Grounds, educating the new gardeners is important so that they too can share growing practices with others, helping to build community. It’s also a step to ensure that LA Green Grounds can sustain itself and reach more communities.

The work will progress one garden at a time. Guevara and Guevara Rosillo are thrilled at the sight of their baby strawberry plants, and can’t wait for them to flourish.

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This story was originally published on Neon Tommy. Reach Neon Tommy Staff Reporter Tahsin Hyder here. Follow her on Twitter here.

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