A different sort of volunteer gardening effort is thriving at Wattles Farm. The farm, which includes 173 individual plots tended by 230 community members, occupies five acres in Los Angeles, north of Hollywood Boulevard and west of La Brea Avenue. The members get to tend their own 15-by-15-foot plots, in which most grow organic vegetables and flowers. In exchange, each volunteers an hour and a half a month to maintain the farm’s common grounds, which include a rose garden, a fruit tree orchard and an avocado grove. The grove of 144 trees, the last avocado grove in L.A., was designated a cultural heritage property by the City Council, so is protected from development, says Wattles head garden master Herschel Gilbert, who helped start the project 27 years ago.
As a result, passing drivers see something lush and beautiful in the midst of Hollywood’s crowded milieu of cement structures, gaudy billboards and rundon storefronts.
“If we didn’t claim the land and maintain it, it would be just another office building,” Gilbert said.