In April children and their parents celebrated Earth Day with a Kidical Mass bike ride organized by Santa Monica Spoke.  The theme was “The Lorax”. For those without children, or adults born before the 1970’s, The Lorax, a children’s book by Dr. Seuss, is a didactic fable beloved by many for its entertaining but powerful warning of the destructive effects of deforestation. It was fitting to gather at the Park Drive, Community Garden under the canopy of California Sycamores and an old­­­ California Oak tree, standing like a sentinel over the garden plots.  The children arrived in a flock, some dressed like characters from the book, their small feet pedaling fast to see what surprises awaited them at the Santa Monica Community Gardens.  This year, Teague Weybright, Garden Specialist for the City flipped pancakes and served them with fresh strawberries picked from Ishihara Learning Garden.  Community gardeners and volunteers organized garden tours, face painting, seed burst making, (also know as Seed Bombs, where wildflower seeds are mixed in soil, formed into balls, and thrown on bare soil), and monarch butterfly mask coloring.  Kids had the opportunity to make and enjoy yummy ‘gummy worm’ dirt cups!

Kidical Mass started in Eugene, Oregon in 2008 as family-friendly bike rides through the community with fun stops along the way.  The name is a play on words of the Critical Mass bike rides that took place in Sweden as a social movement in the 1970’s and then, stateside in San Francisco in the 1990’s.

The Community Gardens also participated in the first Climate Fest held at Saint Monica’s Catholic Community.  Presented by the City of Santa Monica, Office of Sustainability and the Environment with support from Climate Action Santa Monica (CASM) and Beautify Earth, Climate Fest was the first free community festival to both celebrate and inspire climate action.  The Community Gardens contributed by introducing attendees to different ways of gardening.  Children attending Climate Fest helped by transplanting fresh herbs into a vertical garden, their creation to be donated to a shelter.  Attendees were offered seed packets of Butterfly Weed, a type of Milkweed essential to the life cycle of migrating monarch butterflies for planting in their home gardens.

The Community Gardens will have a table at the Juneteenth celebration this weekend, Saturday, June 16, at Virginia Park. They will be providing information on gardening and hosting activities for children. Ishihara Learning Garden, (2909 Exposition Boulevard), will be open from 9-11 am for a pancake breakfast and workshop on beneficial insects, led by Allison Starcher, author of “Good Bugs for your Garden”. Next weekend, on Sunday, June 24th, the Main Street Community Garden, (Main Street between Hollister and Strand), will open the gates for tours as part of Main Street’s SOULstice celebration.

The Main Street Community Garden opens its gates every second Saturday of the month for a pot-luck breakfast and work day. All are invited for coffee and bagels and lively conversations about gardening. Ishihara Learning Garden is open on the third Saturday of the month for pancakes and workshops.  Please join us to meet your neighbors, learn more about gardening, and maybe get your hands dirty!