Free food garden: Digging for community

Drive by the site of the future store of the Arroyo Food Co-op on the corner of Wilson and Villa, and chances are you'll see people picking or digging away at the dirt on the parkway. What's going on?

The men and women are creating a free food garden. Designed by three local sustainability groups, the food co-op, Transition Pasadena and the Arroyo S.E.C.O. Network of Time Banks, the project is about community. The goal, as stated on the food co-op's website, is to transform an inactive space into a place where people can meet each other, work together, bring home food from the garden and enjoy improved health.

The Free Food Garden is a work in progress. Tasks have ranged from "sculpt the soil with a shovel" and "trim the bougainvillea" to "chat with passersby." The organizers hope that the effort will rub off and that free food gardens will crop up throughout the community.

A similar project, the Throop Learning Garden, already exists at Throop Memorial Church on the corner of Los Robles and Del Mar. There, time bankers and volunteers have transformed two bland looking, water guzzling strips of grass into gardens with drought tolerant plants, fruit trees, butterflies and humming birds.

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To join the free food garden project at 494 N. Wilson Avenue stop by on a Tuesday or Thursday morning or on a Saturday afternoon. For specific times see the calendar on this blog or the website of the food co-op.

Time bank members can earn time dollars to trade for other services. To sign up for an ASNT membership go to It's free.