A little east of the dry San Gabriel riverbed along Ramona Boulevard sits a small plot of land tucked between a dusty fast food chain and small suburban homes and apartments. A decade ago, residents and community activists of the City of El Monte came together to create the city’s first and only community garden at this very site, and the La Madera Community Garden continues to thrive ten years later.
As you walk through the trellised entrance heavy with vines, a brightly colored sign greets you and the aromatic scents of ripening fruit beckons you in. Hand painted murals line a large trailer, which serves as the garden’s toolshed. Currently over 30 families, many of them with Asian or Latin American roots, cultivate plots in the garden under the leadership of the volunteer Garden Manager, Carmen Macias. A diversity of languages, cultural techniques and growing practices from across the world converge at this 17,000 square foot site, owned by a generous private landowner who leases the land for a nominal fee.
The community garden boasts plenty of amenities for gardeners, including a cob oven (built by Cal Poly Pomona graduate students), barbecue pit, medicinal garden, and a shaded communal area used for meetings, classes and get-togethers. Celebrating its tenth year, the La Madera Community Garden continues to be a community asset for the City of El Monte, and will be for years to come.