A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE GARDEN
Altadena Community Garden: 1970 – Present
Original text by Albert H. West, Garden President 1996 (revised 1/2008)
The Altadena Community Garden, located at the corner of Lincoln and Palm in Altadena, California is truly the result of a community getting involved. The garden would not exist today were it not for the cooperation of diverse community interests – homeowners, park devotees, equestrians, tennis advocates, and political leaders, who came together when the site of the former Mt. Lowe Military Academy reverted to Los Angeles County ownership in the mid 1970s.
Following the abandonment of the Academy, several homeowners from the community began to cultivate small plots in the area that now houses the tennis courts and equestrian arena. Later the County provided water lines for the gardeners’ use. Over time, the gardeners formally organized, elected officers, adopted by-laws, and remained in the area for five years.
In the late 1970s, a local area community committee was formed to work with political leaders and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation to determine the future redesign and incorporation of the Academy site into Loma Alta Park. This committee of ten people was headed by Cue McKinzie and past garden president, Fred Shotlow. After consulting with the many community interests, the committee supported the relocation of the garden to its current site. This decision was approved by the County, which then sent out designers and other personnel to work with the gardeners in creating the existing layout of 59 standard and four handicapped plots.
Los Angeles County personnel graded the site, constructed the fences, tool shed, patio deck, benches and most of the sidewalks. In addition to participating in the design, the gardeners set the garden border and aisle way plot boards as well as assisted in the landscaping. Completion of the garden site in 1984 was the cornerstone of the Loma Alta Park redesign, which included the tennis courts, equestrian center, and park expansion. Two edifices remain from the original Academy: the pillared wrought-iron entry gate on Palm Street and the park Youth Center building, which formerly functioned as the Academy’s gun range.
The garden has thrived since its creation, strengthening the spirit of the original gardeners and so many in the community who strove for many years to see the Altadena Community Garden come to fruition. We think it is one of the finest community gardens in Los Angeles County.
The Altadena Community Garden is a non-profit organization that provides gardening space, information and education to Garden members and the local community. We believe that growing nutritional food and working outdoors in a group setting promotes healthy minds, spirits, and bodies. The Garden honors and appreciates the diversity, unique qualities, and cultural ideals of our gardeners and the community. By growing fresh food and tending the Garden together, we support harmony, cooperation, and healthy life choices for residents of Los Angeles County.
The Altadena Community Garden is both a space (the Garden itself), and the group of people that runs it (the self-supporting non-profit organization) in partnership with the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation (LACDPR). The Garden is a space of two and one-half acres divided into some 64 garden plots, along with a large common area that includes a parking area, large deck, and storage sheds. Garden members pay an annual membership fee that entitles them to use their plot; to use the common area; and to use tools owned by the Garden. The Bylaws of the non-profit are the basis of Garden operations, and spell out what members can and can't do in the Garden. All of this takes place under the auspices of LACDPR, which provides much-needed services in support of the activities and infrastructure of the Garden.