It's harvest time and community gardens are providing a bounty for people of diverse ages, backgrounds and geographies, so this week we're focusing our blog on a few great stories from these local growing efforts. This story was originally published as an article on the Coachella Unincorporated website. Coachella Unincorporated is a youth media startup in the East Coachella Valley, funded by the Building Healthy Communities Initiative of The California Endowment and operated by New America Media in San Francisco.
By Johnny Flores
When Hilda Hinojosa’s baby has colic, all she has to do is walk across the parking lot and pick some manzanilla from among the various vegetables, fruits and herbs at Las Casas Apartments Community Garden.
She uses the herb, also known as chamomile, to soothe four-month-old Berenice to sleep.
“I don’t drive, so it’s much easier to come to the garden,” said Hinojosa in Spanish. “It would take me longer to get to the store, and my little girl would still be crying.”
Residents who don’t participate in the community gardens are still welcome to pick from them.
“I share my cilantro with everyone,” said Hinojosa, who plants hierba buena (spearmint), onions, nopales, (cactus) and cilantro. She makes salsa from the peppers and tomatoes grown by her neighbors.
Beatriz Gonzalez, who has also been an active community gardener at Las Casas for eight years, shares her corn, radishes, and strawberries. “We share what we plant with whoever needs it,” said Gonzalez, who works in the community garden after a full day of picking grapes in the fields of the Eastern Coachella Valley. “We let them in and give them what they need.”
|Residents at Las Casas discuss their garden|
“These are farm workers who work to feed the country but don’t have access to food themselves,” said Josseth Mota, community services coordinator for CVHC. “We want to strengthen the community and allow the residents to work for pleasure and benefit outside of their normal job.”
Nadia Villagran, CVHC’s director of communications and operations, affirms that the gardeners are harvesting community along with their crops.
|A close-up photo of the Las Casas bounty|
“Through these gardens, we hope residents of Las Casas feel a true sense of community,” said Villagran. “In doing this, we want to be able to sustain the community and help those who cannot afford fresh produce to feed their families.”
To learn more about housing opportunities, or find out how you can help, visit www.cvhc.org or call (800) 689-4663.