Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Guerilla Gardening

Reader Ed asked below if Pomonans would like to see more beautification in Pomona or more police. It seems like both could be possible with a little community involvement. Case in point would be an article that appeared over the weekend in the Daily Bulletin:

"Pomona plants garden to help build community
Monica Rodriguez, Staff Writer
Article Created: 01/12/2008 10:09:27 PM PST

POMONA - Three young men stood around a deep hole Saturday morning carefully arranging what looked like four long twigs before covering their roots with shovels full of rich, dark soil.
The tall, slender trees represented four different varieties of nectarines that one day will produce fruit, offer shade, help clean the air and - most importantly - bring people together.

"It's really a great thing to go into a community and help build community through gardens," said Lee Krusa of Pomona.

Krusa was part of about 30 people who participated in planting 44 fruit trees in what is being called the Tri-City Urban Demonstration Farm.

Cal Poly students along with Tri-City Mental Health Center staff and others took part in planting the food forest on part of a half-acre lot adjacent to Tri-City's offices on North Garey Avenue.

Krusa planted the trees and, with fellow Cal Poly Pomona landscape architecture graduate student Scott Kleinrock, designed the garden.

Once completed it will have an area for a vegetable garden, a meditation area, benches under the shade of the fruit trees and more.

The garden will have many uses, Kleinrock said, ranging from a place for quiet reflection to a place to learn urban gardening techniques.

For Tri-City, the garden will have a therapeutic and educational purpose, said Al Chin, Tri-City's support services manager and interim child services supervisor.

During the fall, children who are clients of the center had an opportunity to work in the garden with positive results, he said.
"We saw major changes," said Andrea Roel, a mental-health worker with Tri-City. "We had a girl in depression who worked with a little girl who wouldn't talk at all."

Before long the two were interacting.

Children and teens were working side by side and having fun, she said.

As the garden grows, so do the potential educational uses, Chin said.

The idea for the garden came from Rancho Cucamonga resident Randy Bekendam shortly after the death of Ethan Esparza in November 2006.

Ethan was outside his grandparents' East Columbia Avenue home the day before his fourth birthday when he was mortally wounded by gunshots from a passing vehicle.

The incidents prompted Bekendam to think of what he could to make a difference in the community. His idea was to organize Project ETHAN, which stands for Everyone Together Healing All Neighborhoods.

Project ETHAN was a call for people to use their talents to help improve the community and bring an end to street violence.

Bekendam's contribution was to use his farming skills to start community gardens where people can build connections they can use to address neighborhood concerns as well as provide a place to keep young people away from gangs and violence.

It took time to find a place to start a garden, but eventually Bekendam and Tri-City connected. In May, during a citywide community cleanup, the land was cleared of weeds and a vegetable garden was planted.

On Saturday, Bekendam looked at the new trees and said he had never visualized this garden.

"This was beyond our wildest expectations," he said."

It's unclear to me whether this was done on City or private property, but there is enough blighted land in this City both publicly and privately held that it doesn't matter. As is evidenced from the article, members of the community will come out and donate what they can, even if it's just sweat equity. In terms of plants for instance, both Ed Tessier and a guy on the 100 block of Alvarado regularly give away free drought tolerant plant clippings. Today's photo is of a free box that I just received via a middle man from the guy in the 100 block of Alvarado.

I can't be the only one tired of looking at the dirt strip on Towne, just south of the 10 freeway. The one that holds the new "WElcome to Pomona" sign. If you really want to welcome people to Pomona, you don't do it with an ugly dirt strip. Initially my plan was to dig a small hole in the dirt, place a drought tolerant plant in there, and encourage anyone reading the blog to do the same. But, in talking it over with my friend the gardener, she advised that the soil looks so dry and hard that a plant likely won't survive in the soil the way it is, drought tolerant or not. In order to till the entire soil area, it seems we need the City's permission.

So I called the city yesterday to find out how to get them to landscape it, or allow private citizens to do so. I am told that Tom Taylor of the Parks and Rec department is handling my concern. If you want to chime in that you'd like to see landscaping done there either by the City or grassroots, give Tom a call at (909) 620-3769. Once that strip is landscaped, we can move onto another sad-looking area -- like the corner of Alvarado and Stater Bros. Does anyone know off hand who owns that long-abandoned gas station or the old Lamplighter-type restaurant?



Anonymous said...

Garey High School recently had a ceremony for a memorial garden on the school campus. It honored staff, students and some alumni (if I'm not mistaken)

Sherlock said...

I'll be curious to know if the burden for that strip of dirt belongs to the adjacent property owner or the city. Either way, I completely agree the parking strip should be landscaped. Any chance our Council member or Mayor might be interested in expediting the process?

me said...

I am thinking if the city guy gets a number of calls from different citizens that he will make that parkway a priority. Or am I naive? Plus, it is arguably one of the more visible parkways in the whole city, given that it houses the "WElcome to Pomona" sign. And if the strip belongs to say the nearby church, then we approach the church about either doing something themselves or letting us do something with the land.

G of P