Ocean View Farms, a Community Garden and City Oasis

Apr 07, 2009 by Lisa Newton

On Saturday, I spent the morning learning how to grow tomatoes at Ocean View Farms (OVF).

What is Ocean View Farms?

It is among the largest of more than 70 community gardens in Los Angeles County, with over 300 gardeners, ranging in age from 18 to 90.

Working in 500 garden plots, OVF is a vibrant community spanning all races and income levels.

During the morning conference, I heard a discussion about DWP’s new watering restriction hours and in another, I listened intently about which current crops are now being grown.

What originally began as an open field which once only grew soy beans; today Ocean View Farms is the preeminent authority and haven for growing tomatoes in Los Angeles.

The 5th Annual Tomato-bration

Presented by the esteemed tomato grower, Barbara Spencer, from the Windrose Farm in Paso Robles, it was an exciting class about tomato growing. She provided valuable tips, and how-to’s on her expertise. After giving a background on the various tomato plants she brought–both seedlings and plugs–she opened the floor for questions.

With an audience of over 50 aficionados, there was no shortage of questions–from how to deal with limited water access, how best to feed tomato plants, and the best ways to prune them.

Before the program started, I had a chance to walk through the various paths that intertwined through the garden plots.

Everyone has their own individual style for growing:

Mailboxes, scarecrows, flowers, vegetables, fruits, a chair to relax in, and various gardening paraphernalia decorated each plot.

Here are some examples:

If you didn’t guess, this last picture is a rhubarb plant. When I was a kid, we grew rhubarb in our backyard. And to this day I think that Strawberry Rhubarb is the best pie ever. After seeing this and several other rhubarb plants brought an incredible stream of memories for me.

The Ocean View Farms composting program

OVF also has a very active composting program.

In 2003, 180 tons of shredded soft green waste, 900 cubic yards of woody material and 80 tons of stable waste were combined by Ocean View Farms to produce a virtually unlimited supply of compost for their 300 members who tend about 500 garden plots.

The Ocean View Farms composting program has saved its garden approximately $10,000 per year in disposal fees for the last seven years.

In fact, OVF’s composting program is so successful; it’s won the Waste Reduction Awards Program (WRAP) eleven years straight. WRAP provides an opportunity for California businesses to gain public recognition for their outstanding waste reduction efforts, and helps the business community to take waste reduction seriously.

Do you plant a garden? Have you ever thought about joining a community garden? What plants bring back memories for you?

I continue to be amazed at all the great places I find by Travelin’ Local.

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15 Responses to “Ocean View Farms, a Community Garden and City Oasis”

  1. Lance says:

    Hi Lisa,
    I love the garden pictures. We “try” to grow a garden each year. Tomatoes are about the only thing we are semi-successful with (I should have been at the seminar!!). And rhubarb – my mom makes a rhubarb dessert that is the best. A few years ago, my parents brought down some rhubarb to replant at our house – my dad swore the stuff can grow anywhere. We proved him wrong! It never did grow! So, now I just wait from my mom to bring us a pan of her dessert! Maybe I missed it, do you have a garden here at OVF?

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

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  2. LisaNewton says:

    @ Lance Years ago, when I had a backyard garden, I tried rhubarb, too, with limited success. Tomatoes and green peppers worked the best. Because I only just discovered this garden, I don’t have a plot there. It’s my understanding that they have a waiting list of people, so it might be a while before I can get one. I bet your Mom’s dessert is very delicious.

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  3. Lisa's Chaos says:

    I would love to be part of a community garden! :) There aren’t any around here and I was amazed to here that you have more than 70 there! Wow! I planted some tomatoes last year, not sure that I will theis year, I had to fight the chipmunks way too much for the maters.

    Lisa’s Chaos’s last blog post..Sandhills announce spring

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  4. David says:

    Lisa, the way you cover your stories and subject matter, makes your point of view, impossible to not get excited about your topics. Sign me up! I want to grow!

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  5. LisaNewton says:

    @ Lisa’s Chaos I didn’t know there were so many community gardens until I did the research for this post. You might be surprised to see if there are any in your area. Chipmucks? I used to have deer in my garden, but never chipmucks. Do they eat everything and anything?

    @ David Thank you so much. Consider yourself signed up…………:)

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  6. Betsy Wuebker says:

    Hi Lisa – Congratulations on NBOTW at Barbara’s site! I love this post. My husband and I are both gardeners – he’s veggie boy and I’m flower girl. There is a strong community garden movement in the Twin Cities where we live, and the Farmers Markets are thriving. Minnesota climate can’t rival California’s for production – our growing season is so limited we have to make the most of it, and we don’t take it for granted. But, we do a lot of canning and preserving so we can enjoy what we’ve labored over year ’round! Loved the photos and the story!

    Betsy Wuebker’s last blog post..TRIGGERING THE LOVE OF TRAVEL

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  7. FrugalNYC says:

    Hi Lisa,

    Wow, your blog is such a great combination of your writing, research of your subject and photos. I will have to keep all that in my when I do more work on my blogs.

    I wrote a post on community gardens a while back in my FrugalNYC blog. This post reminded me of that and I may have to head back and grab some photos and do a followup soon.

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    FrugalNYC’s last blog post..Frugal Is Back

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  8. LisaNewton says:

    @ Betsy Wuebker Thank you. I had no idea Barbara would do something so great. With the combination of veggie boy and flower girl, your garden must be both beautiful and delicious. I was born and raised in Ohio, so I know a little about shorter growing seasons. When I was young, my mother used to make canning and preserving a family affair. We’d all be gathered around the dining table, peeling tomatoes or peaches, then storing it all in the basement. Being a kid, I didn’t really enjoy it at the time, but it sure was great being able to have homemade strawberry jam all year round.

    @ FrugalNYC Thank you. NYC must have a thriving community garden program. I look forward to seeing your updates and photos……………:)

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  9. Diane C. says:

    I love this post and all the garden pictures. If I didn’t have a yard to plant in, I would look for a local community garden. My mother- in-law in Wis. has a huge garden and also makes yummy rhubarb strawberry pie. I’m really into composting. I have only a tiny yard, but I have four compost piles “cooking.”

    Diane C.’s last blog post..Sunset Run

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  10. Lara says:

    I absolutely love community gardens. A common purpose but so many different styles and techniques for achieving it.

    My Grandfather had a huge garden at his house in San Juan Capistrano, so my memories are of things like avocados and oranges, but my favorite things he grew were flowers. Especially gladiolas…

    Lara’s last blog post..Hair

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  11. Patricia says:

    Oh your pictures are so lovely…Thank you. Our city is a great gardening community and our community gardens are a huge success with at risk teens providing bounty for the food bank…and getting lots of senior attention…

    I am writing about a new garden project here on bikingarchitect dot com tomorrow I wish I had your knack with photography – I just had to fit in with someone else’s shots..

    Patricia’s last blog post..Book Review: Everything Bad is Good For You ~ Steven Johnson

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  12. LisaNewton says:

    @ Diane C. Composting is great. OVF has several large “bins” they use to “age” their compost, and it’s free for all the members.

    @ Lara I love flower gardens, too. Even though you can’t eat them, they can brighten up your day just with a quick look or a brief smell.

    @ Patricia Oh, I love the idea of teens working with seniors. Putting the generations on the same project is a win/win situation. And I don’t see too much activities like that anymore.

    I look forward to reading your blog post about gardening tomorrow…….:)

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  13. Sarah says:

    I’m also a fan of community gardens.

    But I’m here to comment on your love of strawberry-rhubarb pie.

    I, too, believe that strawberry-rhubarb pie — homemade and warm from the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream gently melting on top — is the best dessert EVER. It’s a lil’ slice of heaven.

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  14. LisaNewton says:

    @ Sarah You took the words right out of my mouth……………:)

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