East Hollywood Community Garden Kicks Off Start of Summer
Expanding our commitment to the health and well-being of the people in our community, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles sponsored the Summer Kickoff of the East Hollywood Community Garden, held June 10 and joined by more than 100 area residents and CHLA team members.
The event celebrated the fertile, green space located right in the middle of East Hollywood, and the opportunity it offers to grow fresh fruits and vegetables while connecting neighbor with neighbor.
“Community gardens are a gift to the neighborhood,” says David Valdez, Project Manager in the hospital’s Office of Community Affairs.
CHLA’s participation represented another step in the hospital’s efforts as a food access hub, Valdez says, reducing food insecurity by increasing the availability of high-quality, nutritious food. “We are widening access to sources of fresh produce, promoting food harvesting, encouraging healthy eating, and improving nutrition education throughout the areas in which we work and live.”
The Summer Kickoff served as a kind of post-pandemic grand reopening for the East Hollywood Community Garden, which had been unable to host any large gatherings for the past three years. Since July 2019, the garden has been a place where individuals can lease a plot of soil and grow their own fruits and vegetables while sharing gardening tips and enjoying the company of their fellow community members. Visitors who don’t have their own plots can harvest produce in areas designated for communal gardening.
One of the event’s objectives was simply to bring the garden to the community’s attention. “It was amazing how many people said they were not aware of it,” Valdez says.
The garden is adjacent to Madison Avenue Public Park and is surrounded by apartment buildings, sitting right behind the Hollywood Hotel. It’s a short distance from Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, a walk Valdez has made many times himself.
CHLA’s involvement in the East Hollywood Community Garden is part of a collaboration with the Los Angeles Community Garden Council (LACGC), which governs 42 community gardens across the city. Independently, CHLA partnered with Los Angeles City College in 2021 to build “The City’s Garden” on the school’s campus. “We're supporting the creation of a network of gardens,” Valdez says. “That’s the goal.”
Valdez explains that another benefit of these produce gardens is the food education they provide. He gives an example of a young boy who had never seen such dark-green lettuce—which wasn’t lettuce at all, he learned. It was kale.
“Exposing individuals to new foods, new fruits and vegetables that they might not be aware of or that they might not be used to eating, is important,” Valdez says. “It creates opportunities for new tastes and flavors while also educating individuals about health advantages associated with food choices.”
He says the ultimate goal of the East Hollywood Community Garden is to relieve food insecurity by making fresh and nutritious foods more available to those who typically don’t have enough access to them. “Helping reduce food insecurity is a great way to effect change for the good of our local neighborhoods and communities.”
East Hollywood Community Garden: When and Where
Location: 1177 N. Madison Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90029
Open to visitors: Saturdays, 10 a.m.-noon; Wednesdays, 4-6 p.m.