Annual Garden Fundraiser Brings Out Long Beach Locals’ Green Thumb

Long Beach Organic will be hosting its annual fundraiser this Saturday at one of its eight community gardens in the city limits.

The non-profit organization was founded in 1994 and since has been able to beautify areas around Long Beach. Locating urban vacant lots from public and private owners, members turn them into beautiful community gardens for local and sustainable food production. 

Garden plots are rented on a six-month basis. In addition, Long Beach Organic donates fresh vegetables to alleviate food insecurity while also hosting cooking and gardening workshops for the local community.

California State University, Long Beach is among the various food banks across the city that has received over a thousand pounds for its food pantry on-campus for its students. Interns at each garden also are students of the college themselves.

“It started as an environmental mission and it has evolved more into a community mission,” said Joe Corso, garden director.

The gardens have become more than just a local convenience but a communal experience. Blighted properties get transformed into a gathering spot, drawing members of the surrounding area toward a particular focal point. 

Members can sign up through the organization’s web page, though for those interested in reserving a plot in the garden, there is a waiting list. They may also drop by during monthly workdays or visit any of the eight gardens to get more information.

Plots can be reserved for a six-month period and are required to be maintained. Members must also pitch in during monthly workdays, accumulating a specific set of community hours. Participation is essential to maintain one’s plot.

“At any given time we have over 200 households gardening with us,” Corso said.

People who have never met or interacted with their neighbors can join a community gardening project while providing fresh vegetables for their tables. In addition, boundaries across various demographics become blended together.

With the COVID pandemic still around, the workshops were put on hold, though kid-friendly activities have managed to continue, guiding youth towards developing their green thumbs. Though the organization has yet to establish a formal curriculum, gardeners still learn the best tips of the trade from other gardeners.

“Different cuisines, different words, different ways of thinking, and I just love that part of it,” Corso said.

The fundraiser, Plants R Us, will be held at Zaferia Junction Community Garden between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Donations are welcome. The event will also feature live jazz and fresh honey, from their beekeeper.

Attendees can also make purchases in advance by placing online orders at www.longbeachorganic/select-pickup-time

By Carter Williams II

Photo credit: Long Beach Organic