Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase Highlights Building Community with Gardens

3201 Butler Ave.
People replace their turf lawns for many reasons: to help the environment, to use less water, to make room for fruit trees and other edibles, to create a beautiful outdoor space to enjoy with family, friends and nature. A perhaps unexpected benefit expressed by many participants in the Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase is creating community.
The do-it-yourself gardener at 2554 Federal Avenue calls his front yard a Victory Garden. He says “Often when a neighbor walks by or shows interest in the garden, I can pluck a sprig of rosemary or share a vegetable in the garden. With sharing becoming more scarce, I feel my garden has the ability to act  as a vehicle for people to re-connect and share.”
The grass area in front of 3201 Butler Avenue is being transformed into a veritable farm. According to the homeowners, a surprising side benefit of this conversion is the social aspect. They’ve met more people in the neighborhood than ever before. Neighbors stop by on the weekends to see what's going on…sometimes leaving with some excess zuchinni.
3201 Butler Ave.
Growing edibles to share helps, but is not required for building community with gardens. Just puttering or sitting and enjoying the garden are often enough. Barbeques with friends, bird and insect activity, and encounters with friendly neighbors have all increased since completion of the garden makeover at 2561 Barry Avenue. The owner says he’s “met more neighbors in past year than in the previous 15 due to time spent enjoying the front yard and lower rise wall.” At3749 Redwood Avenue, a swing bench is the perfect place to meet the neighbors on a hot afternoon.
The do-it-yourselfers at 11375 Matteson say, “Now that the biggest physical part of the work is done, we are discovering the many joys of puttering in the garden and growing some of our own food. Plus since we're out front for all to see, a side benefit has been connecting with neighbors and building community!”
Perhaps most immediate impact of the landscaping project at 13001 Morningside Way is the profound sense of wellbeing that the homeowners experience. A tire swing in the parkway encourages kids and parents to pause and view the garden while walking in the neighborhood. The owners encourage people to help themselves to fruits and veggies, always leaving some for the next person.
The edible garden at 4106 Marcasel Avenue provides much more than produce. The homeowners say, “It is a great learning experience for the kids and a way to meet neighbors.” Their garden is connected to a neighbor’s garden that gets different sunlight, so they grow different things and share.  “It has been one of the best parts of the garden,” they say. In the summer, they all sit out back between the gardens, enjoying a glass of wine and whatever delicious dishes they can create from their bounty. The children play and the parents have some grown up time together. 
On Saturday, April 21, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., the community of Mar Vista celebrates Earth Day by inviting the wider community to visit some of its wonderful gardens. At the free 4th Annual Mar Vista Green Garden Showcase you’ll see a wide variety of mostly turf-free outdoor spaces and meet professional and do-it-yourself landscapers as well as presenters from various environmental organizations. Learn the stories behind the gardens. Share gardening tips with owners and guests. Save the date! Come and experience community.
January 31st is the deadline to add your garden to the tour!