Meet Spring Street Community Garden!
Marty Berg had been wanting to put a community garden on this spot in the heart of
downtown LA for a long time. So had a lot of other people. But it took a chance meeting
between his wife and the manager of the Joe’s Parking Lot where it sat for it to happen.
“She just walked up to him and said, ‘What do you think about putting a garden here?’
And he said, ‘Yes!’”
The timing may have had a lot to do with it. The long skinny lot in a nondescript stretch
of Spring Street had been home to little more than weeds and trash for many years. But
the neighborhood was changing, and neglect was not what people wanted to see. “I think
they decided it was time to engage in some community relations-work,” says Marty.
City Hall thought so too. Their council office (CD 14, Jose Huizar) donated most of the
funds to build the plots and buy the soil. Joe’s Parking donated the land and pays the
water bill. “They made that part of it easy,” says Marty.
Marty’s then-neighbor Vivien Phung was crucial to the next step: organizing. Along with
a handful of other neighborhood activists, she helped Marty set up the governingstructure, direct the design committee, and get construction underway. “It took us a year from conception to reality, which seemed like forever,” she says, “but I guess was pretty fast.” They put in their first plants in June of this year.
Vivien oversees the handful of shared plots, plus the compost piles. And she’s been instrumental in involving local community groups, including several homeless organizations, and a local Girl Scout troop. Her next project is to set up a hydroponics system to grow fresh greens year round, and possibly serve as a base for local employment. “This garden is so much more than a little bit of green space in the city. We really want to make a difference in people’s lives.”
And it’s only the beginning – she and Marty already have their eye on a similar lot, right across the street.
By Cyndi Hubach