Skip to main content
Member Login

The History of Emerson Avenue Community Garden Club

Until the late 1970’s, the one acre of land south of and adjacent to the Orville Wright Middle School was used in LAUSD’s agricultural program. The program was discontinued and the area deteriorated into a derelict storage space for school equipment and dumpsters. It was full of weeds and closed to students.

In 2006, local community members initiated an effort to revitalize the area into a pocket park, but due to funding issues, it never evolved. In 2010, another group of community members and teachers at Orville Wright Middle School (now known as Wright Middle School STEAM Magnet) formed an alliance with a local environmental group, Environmental Change Makers, to develop this land into a vibrant shared green space. They removed all trash and unwanted trees and brush, tilled the property to reduce weeds, and completed a soil test of the entire acreage. These efforts led to the formation of the Emerson Avenue Community Garden Club (the “Club” or “EACGC”). The Club was incorporated in February of 2011.

The garden is a continuous, on-going project dependent on the combined efforts of the Club’s members and volunteers. Its success depends on community involvement. EACGC provides educational activities to promote horticultural best practices in organic gardening and food preservation including, but not limited to, seed saving with neighbors and local Girl Scouts, gardening for Wright students, and oversight of programs for canning, beekeeping, soil testing, fruit tree pruning, soil building cover crops, composting, edible landscaping and more. The Club also partnered to offer Grow LA Victory Garden Initiative classes. Additionally, EACGC sponsors and participates in numerous community events, including the Westchester July 4th Parade, and the Westchester Art & Music Block Party (“WAM”). In partnership with the Westchester Rotary, EACGC realized its goal of making the garden accessible to people with wide ranging access challenges. Concrete walkways were poured in the final weeks of 2021. This transpired after one long year amidst a pandemic to complete a capital improvement plan 10 years in the making. In 2022, the garden reopened to active gardening with renewed purpose, gathering to work the ground and enjoy the company of others. Committees maintain the appearance of the common areas, the Monarch Butterfly Way Station, the Native Garden, the "orchard” of fruit trees and the herb and pollinator gardens. The club conducted educational workshops focusing on composting, growing mushrooms, tree care and the harvest of tomatoes. The Master Gardeners held training on horticultural practices. Seniors were welcomed in the spring and children in the fall during the annual WAM Block Party. 

Improvements We’ve Made To Our Garden 

  • Developed a 32 plot school garden, now known as the “North Garden”
  • Negotiated installation of a watering system with work completed by LAUSD
  • Designed and constructed a spiral path with a garden of over 150 California native plants
  • Designed and built an outdoor classroom made from recycled materials
  • Developed 39 private plots for lease to the community and several free community plots for use by approved community groups
  • Acquired and refurbished a storage container, and built storage units for tools and equipment
  • Added solar lighting to the storage container
  • Restored the health of native trees, planted new fruit trees, and designed and installed a fruit tree watering system 
  • Planted additional perennial gardens: butterfly gardens, pollinator gardens, herb garden, and a succulent garden
  • Awarded designation as a Monarch Butterfly Way Station in 2021
  • Constructed lending libraries throughout the garden
  • Constructed wooden seating benches 
  • Designed and constructed bins for traditional composting and worm composting 
  • Planted demonstration gardens for growing wheat, squash, and cover crops
  • Supported Eagle Scout projects to develop the pollinator garden, stone benches, and plot mailboxes
  • Planted a blueberry patch and butterfly attractant garden
  • Added former Rose Parade sculptures to add visual interest and to beautify the garden
  • Installed concrete walking pathways and clearly defined plots with the assistance of the Rotary Club
  • Negotiated and mutually adopted a Joint Use Agreement with LAUSD in 2017 for a five year term. Renewal talks have started.

EACGC’s overarching purpose is to develop a sustainable, organic food garden and green space shared by the school and the public at large for the purposes of education and community building. We hope you will share in stewardship of this garden.