West Hollywood city officials are leading residents down the garden path — in a positive way — by accentuating the benefits of the city’s new edible parkway gardening program.
On Tuesday, Councilwoman Abbe Land, Mayor Pro Tem John Heilman and other city staff members visited the home of Todd Hunter and Jason Currie near Santa Monica Boulevard and Fairfax Avenue to view the results of the program first-hand.
“I think a lot of people want to get their hands in the dirt and have a place to garden, and now we’ve made it a little easier,” Land said. “It will also provide food for people that need it. …I think it will help people see how they too can — either in the parkway or even in their own yards — grow vegetables and have drought-tolerant plants and learn how to take care of them. I think it’s a good thing.”
Currie said a neighbor approached the couple about planting the garden in front of their home to serve as a model for the program. They agreed, and the city enlisted the help of Hope Gardens Landscaping to do the work.
Three weeks later, Currie and Hunter had fresh radishes, Italian basil, chives, parsley, garlic and more growing in the parkway garden.
“I just think the whole idea is really great — to turn a wasted space into a useful space,” Currie said.
He said several neighbors have asked them if they are worried that homeless people will ravage the garden. Currie said that he and Hunter are not concerned.
“If somebody needs some Swiss chard from our garden, they’re more than welcome to it,” he added.
Land also dismissed those concerns.
“We’re figuring if they’re helping themselves, they must be hungry so [providing them with food is] a good thing,” she said.
Currie said he hadn’t cooked any of the vegetables, but he looks forward to having a steady supply of produce just feet away from his front door.
“Today we’ll start harvesting some of the lettuces and Swiss chard because they keep growing back,” he said, thanking the entities that helped make the garden happen. “It should be a really fun, cool, little adventure. …We’re totally pleased with it.”
Erin Riley, of Hope Gardens, said the edible parkway gardening program is a “really important” endeavor for West Hollywood as a community.
“I just commend the city of West Hollywood for being such front-runners and so forward-thinking on this kind of idea,” she said. “Edible gardening is wonderful not just for the people who get to consume the food, but for us as a culture to understand where our food comes from and what it takes to grow it. And I know that will trickle down.”
The West Hollywood City Council approved the program during its Sept. 16, 2013, meeting. The council developed a list of city standards and guidelines for parkway gardens and worked with Hope Gardens to help inform residents on how to utilize the program.
According to a city brochure, participating residents are advised to ensure that at least 50 percent of their parkway is covered with plant material, and plants may not exceed two feet when they are within four feet of a driveway. If they are not near a driveway, the maximum height is four feet tall.
Additionally, plants must be at least four feet away from any tree trunk. Residents must also make space for parked cars, make a walkway through the space and ensure that the plants do not have sharp edges or thorns. Furthermore, residents should call 811 or visit digalert.org before they dig.
The city recommends planting lettuce, strawberries, arugula, tomatoes, collards, peppers, kale beans, carrots, radishes, parsnips, beets and rutabaga, among others.
Land said the program is still in the beginning stages, but she believes residents will begin to express a lot of interest in the program. To promote the initiative, the city has created bookmarks that have carrot seeds embedded and can be planted.
For information, call (323)848-6400 or visit www.weho.org/edibleparkways.
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