A Canvas That Creates Community



(This was also addressed to the City Council)

It is with great joy that I write this letter. A year ago, my husband and I married, and moved into a little cottage on Virginia Way. My heart jumped when I saw that only feet away, right across the street, a beautiful little community garden was blooming with flowers and buzzing with life… Immediately I was drawn into this little plot, and as we began to plant our roots, so to speak, in this new neighborhood, I became more and more enthralled in the wonder of the garden…what was growing, who the gardeners were…how I could become a part of something so magical…

So each day after work, I found myself drawn to the garden, a place to rest and explore after a long day of teaching third graders. Walking amongst the mosaic of plants, I became inspired to plant a garden of my own. However, I was still drawn to the community garden.

Even though I did not own a plot, I found joy in weeding and watering the common areas, or striking up a conversation with someone about what was growing in their plots. Over the months, unfamiliar faces became familiar, and exchanged hellos sprouted into friendships.  Sally taught me which plants were weeds, and we shared tips on getting rid of bugs. Morrie and Charlie invited me to join them for coffee in the garden. Willa let us borrow some pots for our tomatoes. Victor taught me how to fertilize tomato plants. Corky gave us one of his prized beets to try. Bill gave me information on plants he thought would be easy for my students to grow at school. Barb even dropped off a milkweed plant, filled with caterpillars, after seeing my fascination with the Monarch butterflies going through their life cycles in the garden.

I could go on. The most beautiful thing I was witnessing was that the community garden had brought these neighbors and gardeners, all different ages and from all different walks of life, together as a community. And I was experiencing the magic of that, feeling connected and part of the community of South Laguna, and excited to invite others into that experience as well! And just as all the different colors on a palette come together to create a beautiful painting, so does the community garden act as a canvas, where people from all walks of life can come together and create something beautiful which will far outlast the growing seasons and leave an imprint and example for the future as well.

Chelsea Vantol, Laguna Beach

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