This past Saturday May 9th, 2016, we had our very first neighborhood food exchange and garden work day. Together with our Councilwoman Nury Martinez of District 6, her amazing staff, Pacoima Beautiful, Jessika Mitchell of TreePeople, our neighborhood Juice Shop, It's Juice Time, and a core group of dedicated farm volunteers: Maddy O'Neil, Sara Jacobs, Bea Elliott, and Lila Burgos (to name a few)--we hosted over 30 community members , planted 40 tomato plants, eight avocado trees, and exchanged nearly 30 lbs. of locally grown food.
It was amazing to see the vision of this day come together; to see it as more than just a facebook post or flyer tucked into a mailbox, because it was the unexpected elements which truly gave the magic to the day. We had community members from 6 months old on up to 80+ years, and they were all digging into the soil, engaging with the mulch, conversing with neighbors, and exchanging laughs and food freely--without judgement or a fear of the unknown. To me that was the most salient part of this first opening to the public: Food, its production and consumption and all the energy that goes into it from seed to table, is truly the simplest platform from which we can all learn to relate to one another. It was so inspiring to see the range in ages, cultures, languages, and so on. Perhaps there are no strangers in the garden, only friends waiting to be discovered.
The San Fernando Valley in all of its vastness has changed much over the centuries. A once giant flood basin for the mountains which encircle it, it has settled into the concrete grid which now defines so much of Los Angeles. However, beneath that hardscape, the cracked curbs, and endless strip malls sits the soil which has always made this place so great--which has always been home to the roots of all the plants and communities which came before us. I trust that as the soil on this farm continues to be cared for and cultivated, so to shall be the friendships and community which continue to spread ever outward.
Stay tuned for next month's food exchange!
Cottonwood Urban Farm