CITYWIDE — If you’ve always wanted to grow your own produce but your tomatoes just end up dead on the vine, fret no longer. The volunteers of the Westside Permaculture Group are here to show you how it’s done.

Members of the club are holding their second annual “Gardens of Gratitude” event this weekend with the goal of helping Santa Monicans and others on the Westside set up their own organic “edible gardens.”

Volunteer gardening enthusiasts — some of them expert growers and others gardening newcomers themselves — will be fanning out to plots in backyards, apartment building common areas and school sites — anywhere would-be green thumbs are in need of help.

“It’s geared toward anybody that wants to get vegetables in the ground,” said Joey Soto, a spokeswoman for the event.

At least 170 volunteers will be visiting the 66 garden sites that have signed up so far.

One stop on their itinerary will be at Lynn O. Peterson’s apartment complex in Ocean Park. A gardening student herself, she signed up for the event to help kickstart a planned vegetable garden next to her building’s pool.

She said it’s a chance to learn from experts in organic growing and an opportunity to get others excited about gardening. Though she’s planning to take a course to become a master gardener next year, Peterson said she’s an “environmental lightweight” compared with many of the volunteers in the group.

“I don’t use anything that’s not extremely organic, and these people are on the same page. They are really green,” she said.

They also bring a sense of enthusiasm to the job.

By Wednesday, a volunteer had already dropped off compost to be used in setting up the garden, Peterson said, and there was no shortage of helping hands.

“I had my compost shoveled by a pregnant woman with dreadlocks,” she said.

Stroller White, another volunteer, has been making the rounds dropping off mulch and plans to be part of a gardening crew on Saturday. A Sunset Park resident, he said he has spinach, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce and herbs growing in his backyard.

“I’m an avid gardener, I’m just trying to get other people turned onto it also,” he said.

To learn more or to volunteer this weekend, go to

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