Garden comes alive at event

A dozen volunteers toiled over a barren dirt lot Saturday on Monterey Road to prepare it for what will soon be Glendale’s first community-run garden.

There are other neighborhood gardens in Glendale, but the 11,000-square-foot lot at 870 Monterey Road will be the first to be organized by a nonprofit organization and operated under a co-op comprising its gardeners.

Volunteers with the Los Angeles International Church of Christ and Coalition for a Green Glendale, the nonprofit in charge of the site, worked to clear the ground of rocks and chunks of asphalt Saturday in one of the final days of dirt grading before crews start building the infrastructure required to support a large-scale community garden.

“It’s a lot of manual labor,” said Garen Nadir, a founding member of the Coalition for a Green Glendale.

Crew used shovels and picks to break through the sun-hardened top layer of dirt Saturday as the coalition works to ready the site for a grand opening in April.

Tree People of Los Angeles is scheduled to drop off 65 fruit trees Jan. 25 in what will be the first major “greening” of the lot since the City Council voted 4 to 1 in December to approve the land deal that allowed the garden to move forward.

With Mayor John Drayman pushing the venture, the council approved the $1-a-year land lease with the nonprofit Los Angeles Community Garden Council, which will play the role of silent partner with the nascent Coalition for a Green Glendale as it takes on its first community project.

Organizers said they intend to plant only 30 of the 65-tree donation, and so will give away the remainder to the public next weekend.

After the trees will come the city-installed irrigation infrastructure, soil tilling and compost, a tool shed, benches, bike rack and other accessories, and then the fence. When all is said and done, the site will be able to accommodate 20 planting plots, for which 25 people have already been approved to garden, coalition co-founder Alek Bartrosouf said.

To achieve all of it by April will require a concerted effort on the part of coalition volunteers and future gardeners, he added.

“We need their help to build the garden beds because they’re going to be a lot of work,” Bartrosouf said.

It’s a labor that future gardener Elena Caballero was getting a head start on Saturday as she helped rake up loose rocks and pebbles.

A 20-year resident of Glendale who emigrated from Peru, Caballero said she has always wanted a terra firma garden of her own. The pots in her south Glendale apartment haven’t cut it, she added.

“I’m going to plant a lot of vegetables because, right now, the market is very expensive,” she said. “I already have all the seeds.”

As of Saturday, roughly 25 residents were on the waiting list for the garden. The initial batch of participants were chosen according to proximity to the site, Bartrosouf said.

“We’re an environmental organization, so we’re trying to cut down on the amount of traffic and driving,” he said.

While the list is closed for now, the City Council in December indicated an interest in expanding the community garden concept to a site less than a block away, near the intersection with Coronado Drive along the Verdugo Wash.


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