Garden Preservation
La Plaza Cultural and 9 BC Garden

LOCATION: Lot#30, 23 & 24, 632-636 E. 9th St.


La Plaza Cultural and the 9 BC Garden was founded in 1976 with a 1 year short-term lease changed to Greenthumb licence in 1996. It consist of 100 members, and 27,000 sq. ft. of land that includes a large park and attached garden with approximately 30 plots.

Hundreds of people in this neighborhood are served yearly by this park. Thousands have been served in the past, however the numbers are recently lower due to present renovations. Future projects are much higher, especially concerning children's groups.

The ages of the members range from 8 to 60-something. They are black, Hispanic (many nationalities), white (many nationalities), and Asian.

The plant species are incredibly diverse. There are traditional plants, such as: roses, lilies, hollyhocks, hollies, trumpet vine, yew, kiwi, ivy, sun flowers, iris, lilac, peonies, eve. primrose, grapes, herbs, hydrangeas, monarda, all manner of vegetables, weeping willows, birch, linden, apple, pear, peach, cherry, plum, pines, birch, fir, magnolia, elm, maple, dog wood, viburnum, paw paw, grasses of many types, and a new native plant garden with: many species that was planted by neighborhood children. There are many different birds, resident coy and squirrels.

There have been many activities in the garden space. There is an amphitheater performance area. There have been plays, concerts weddings, memorials, block parties, barbecues, picnics, church services, dedications and most recently, volunteer work parties and children's planting programs. Many performances and programs (especially to benefit neighborhood children) are planned upon completion of the park's renovation.

La Matta Clark, an artist, started to clear the lots. Chino and Armondo of Charas worked with Buckminster Fuller to build a geodesic dome for performances. Mary Owens and David Bobar obtained the GT lease for a community garden. La Plaza joined the garden and shut down temporarily for renovations. It is now open on weekends until renovations are completed. This garden's history is incredibly complex and very fascinating. To find out more please seek-out the chairperson.

Rebuilding the community garden and park has brought together many diverse groups of people. It has provided a performance space that is unparalleled in this neighborhood. It is an incredible resource for children and adults wishing to commune with the city's natural element. It is a space to grow vegetables and fruit. It is beautiful to see and experience. It has given many a cause to fight for in a neighborhood quickly slipping away. It has been for 20 years an incredible catalyst for many incredible things. It is a one-of-a-kind resource, not to be lost.

Destroying this park and garden will destroy all that is mentioned above. What's more, it will make this block, this neighborhood and this city all that more bleak. It would destroy two decades of community involvement, of social statement, of art and culture that is imbued in its many forms of this space. It will take away the roots that connect the community and that make the fabric of community life. This garden fought a lengthy and expensive legal battle to prevent middle class housing to be placed there. Members found out that two streams run under the lots making it a ridiculous place to have a solid foundation. This suggests that this garden, and perhaps others, are the most sound development choices. In addition the ecological significance of these gardens is much higher then any other land use in the neighborhood. Researchers have shown that views of vegetation help to relieve stress and are therapeutic. Education experts urge schools to include hands-on environmental education in their curriculum. Relestate values in the city can be doubled with just a view of a garden (ask the gardens neighbors). These are just a minute few of the myriad of reasons to save the gardens...the list could go on for days.

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