Carlos "Elmo" Gomez began working with AFSC through the "Roots for Peace" program at his high school. To help address the need for fresh produce in the Mar Vista Gardens housing project, Elmo’s class turned an unsightly, weed-filled lot into an organic garden. The garden proved so successful that AFSC’s Roots for Peace program soon expanded to two additional schools.
This year, Elmo returned to AFSC as an intern, pursuing a dream to bring a garden plot to every residential unit in Mar Vista Gardens.
In this low-income neighborhood caught in the cycle of violence and poverty, Elmo found many people who shared his vision. “One of the great things about this project was getting the whole community and youth involved,” he says. “People are really excited to grow food.”
Elmo worked closely with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles and, in response to their concerns, adapted the plan to create a single community garden rather than many residential plots. He organized workshops for residents in which master gardener Millie Alegro shared tips on what to grow and how to prepare the soil, among other things.
Elmo hopes the project will expand as more and more residents experience the value of growing their own fresh food.