Courtesy of one of South Coast Botanic Garden's docents, my fellow docents and I were introduced to Valmonte Farm & Garden
earlier this week. Although it's operated in its current location attached to an elementary school less than 8 miles from my home since 2012, I wasn't aware of its existence until now. The garden had its genesis in 2001 when a local restaurateur proposed the idea of a "Seed to Plate" program to the former director of the local school district's special education program. Soon students in the district's Transition to Independence Program
began growing fresh vegetables for that restaurant in a small plot attached to a high school, eventually outgrowing the space before moving to its current 1.5 acre spot adjacent to a little league field. Valmonte Farm now supplies produce to 3 restaurants in nearby Redondo Beach and opens the farm and garden to the community for a farmer's market once a month.
|In addition to the community partnerships referenced on the the garden gate, Valmonte works in collaboration with the ICAN California Abilities Network and periodically receives assistance from a local service club and the Boy Scouts|
The area inside the gates is dotted with a number of very large trees and the stark contrasts between sun and shade made it challenging to get good photographs so please bear with me.
|I don't know the story behind the surfboards arranged under the tree just inside the garden gate but they're attention-grabbing|
Valmonte Farm & Garden arranged an off-schedule farmer's market for the docents' visit.
|The offerings included beans, squash, carrots, kale and flowers. Just outside the range of this photo on the left was a lemonade stand, an array of fresh eggs, and a selection of baked goods. I took home fresh eggs and can provide a testimonial in favor of the gluten-free, low-sugar pumpkin muffins, which based on taste, I wouldn't have guessed were either.|
|Suncatchers and market totes were also on sale. I thought the totes were a smart way to upcycle bird seed bags and I recall reading that the proceeds from the suncatcher sales are used to fund vet visits for the farm's cats.|
Nancy Lemargie, the garden manager, gave the group a brief history of the enterprise before leading the docents on a tour.
The staff's squeezed a lot into their 1.5 acres. The sunniest areas were allocated to the farm operation.
|Although we're near the end of our long dry season, there was still a lot growing in the raised planters|
|I ran into this fellow on my solo spin through the farm area before the majority of the docents arrived. He was on the hunt and I don't think he appreciated my presence.|
|The docents on our tour|
|A butterfly garden and a cow also occupied the sunny space|
There was more to see on the upper level of the garden.
|I shot this photo from the farm area looking back at the upper level of the garden|
|This structure is Nancy's office, which was constructed in part from recycled windows|
|There's a sun porch featuring more recycled windows tacked onto the back of the office|
|The garden also sells a variety of plants propagated by volunteers|
|This deck is used for yoga practice|
There's also a large chicken enclosure and a greenhouse.
|The chickens are fed well in exchange for their eggs. They also have a well-protected night enclosure to keep them safe from predators, which in this area includes coyotes. The back side of the shed adjacent to the chicken enclosure is decorated with tools and topped with solar panels.|
|The garden has a greenhouse constructed from corrugated plastic|
|I was sufficiently impressed with the structure to wonder where my husband and I could build something like this|
The docents enjoyed a wonderful lunch under the trees, courtesy of Kay, who organized our visit. You can get more information (and better photos) on the Valmonte Farm & Garden webpage
and Instagram page
Best wishes for a great weekend. I'm looking forward to the peace and quiet of a temporary construction-free zone.
All material © 2012-2019 by Kris Peterson for Late to the Garden Party
What a great place. I love wandering vegetable gardens. There is something about the orderly beds of beautiful vegetables that is inspiring. My beds alas, are not nearly so orderly. Would love to have an office like Nancy's to work in.ReplyDelete
I loved both the office and the attached sun porch, Elaine.Delete
What a fun and interesting tour. I loved the office and sun porch made from recycled windows. No picture of the delicious muffin? I wonder what their recipe is, sounds yummy. I've been feeling the pull back toward growing some of my own veggies. When we first moved here I was an enthusiastic grower and eater of my own produce, but I got older and more tired and it became a lot of work. But I really should do more of it, even though it's a drop in the bucket of climate control.ReplyDelete
I'd planted to grow small tomatoes from seed this year myself, alison, but somehow never got around to it. I'd love to grow pumpkin too but that needs space.Delete
What a great operation. It looks like they have produce year round? The attempts at school gardens around here haven't done as well, mostly because no one tends them all summer. Sunflowers and pumpkins seem to be what grows well enough untended.ReplyDelete
My impression is that the young adults who work in the garden are part of a year-round program with ICAN but I didn't verify that assumption. Our climate allows us to grow cool season vegetables like lettuce, spinach, kale, peas, beets, and broccoli during the fall and winter months.Delete
What a wonderful place! More and more towns/cities are embracing the notion that giving people the knowledge & "tools" needed to grow their own food not only enriches the individual, but the community as a whole. This is a perfect example of that.ReplyDelete
A member of my family is participating in a program with similar aspirations, Margaret. It's reassuring to realize that communities are developing an awareness of the need for programs like this.Delete
I always think that these projects are so worth while. Our community doesn't have such but they have started a project to educate people about gardening. It has been attended by quite a few people. Our community is agriculturally focused. I always say we live in the middle of a corn field.ReplyDelete
These days, living in the middle of a corn field sounds very appealing to me, Lisa!Delete
How nice to get away completely and take in a serenely glowing productive farm with garden friends! Like you, I'm strongly drawn to that greenhouse.ReplyDelete
The greenhouse was a clever DIY project, Nell. I'm going to have to visit again - and possibly take my resident "builder" with me to suss out the mechanics of it. Of course, I'd have to find a spot for it too, which is easier said than done.Delete
It is always hearkening to hear when worthy projects such as this outgrow their original sites and move on to larger properties. I think we will see more of this in our future. They are sorely needed in our urban communities. It just takes dedicated people and a lot of hard work.ReplyDelete
I hope you're right, Jenny! It's a great concept.Delete
What a lovely visit. I love places like this :)ReplyDelete
I'm glad you enjoyed it, Nikki.Delete
What a fun place and a fun event! I really like those totes!ReplyDelete
I did too, Beth! Converting my own bird seed bags into grocery bags seems a great way to reuse.Delete