Los Angeles Eco-Village - Edible Forest

Los Angeles, California, USA

"Despite being in a highly urban space, LAEV has placed a particular emphasis on expanding local food sources. The apartment blocks stand out from their surroundings with their abundance of greenery, with fruit trees and flowers edging out toward the road. The courtyard is now a garden, providing tomatoes, herbs, peppers, chard, borage, bananas, peaches, apples, apricots, figs, mint, and comfrey. A flock of chickens is integrated into the garden; honeybees are housed on the roof.

Arkin explains, “We have a foot of mulch in the courtyard: we call the soil our future, our wealth.” The courtyard not only uses every inch of space to grow food, but facilitates interaction between neighbors and greater responsibility for looking after, sharing, and enjoying the space. Fruit trees shade hidden nooks, chairs, and hammocks, and colorful murals bring life to the walls. The outside space is just as utilized as the courtyard is, extending the ecovillage’s reach beyond its formal boundaries. Members recently secured permission to grow macadamia nut trees along the sidewalk and are in the process of establishing a learning garden across the road, where they will run workshops for school children.

Ecovillage residents are also striving to make use of every inch of space for slowing and storing water. “We broke up the concrete and created the first permeable sidewalk in L.A., mulched the pathways of our courtyard, and are harvesting rainwater from roof feeds,” Arkin says. “We cooperated with a local youth center to create an eco-park with a stream fed by a storm drain, and a gravel bed that allows storm water to return to the water table.”