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Planting organic produce at The Garden Church. (photo: gardenchurchsp.org)

Located on a dirt lot in between two buildings in Downtown San Pedro, a garden and urban farm is thoughtfully growing organic produce under the gaze of a large dinosaur statue. For five years, the nonprofit agency Feed and Be Fed, which was founded by The Garden Church, has been growing food and distributing it into the local community, making healthy food accessible to all.

Locally grown organic produce is sold weekly in front of The Garden Church every Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 429 W. 6th Street and at the San Pedro Farmers Market. Vegetables, herbs, and other locally grown items for sale can be previewed on their website. Customers pay what they can, and all proceeds go back into the garden and are also used to purchase food to feed people in the community every Sunday at 5 p.m. 

Prior to the pandemic, Feed and Be Fed served a meal in The Garden Church where the community and volunteers would break bread together in this urban sanctuary. Now, people in need pick up their hot prepared dinners at the gate. The meals are purchased from local struggling restaurants which provides another benefit to the community as Feed and Be Fed supports local businesses.

In addition to repurposing urban land, Feed and Be Fed, prior to COVID-19, was providing gardening education to adults and youth and creating a natural setting for community gatherings. There are volunteer opportunities available now as people can work in the garden with masks and keep a social distance at their Downtown San Pedro location or at their farm location at the LAUSD science center in San Pedro. Lead gardener, Dr. Linda O’Brien Rothe, is a wealth of gardening knowledge and instructs volunteers on gardening — and if you are lucky, you might learn how she prepares her celery and other cooking tips. Volunteers are also needed to be part of the compost crew, and individuals can donate their compostables to this program. 

While financial donations are always needed, Feed and Be Fed appreciates donations of gently-used decorative garden pots. Volunteers repurpose the pots and add soil and plants and sell them at the San Pedro Farmers Market on Fridays in Little Italy. The proceeds benefit the garden that strives to be a place where people from all walks of life come together to create a more sustainable and less wasteful San Pedro.

Feed and Be Fed also is part of the Harbor Neighborhood Relief Fund, which is a collaboration with the San Pedro Chamber of Commerce and other faith-based organizations that have come together to aid vulnerable populations in need. Families who have lost jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and local nonprofits who are helping the underserved can apply to receive funds.

“In these struggling times, we maintain a lot of hope, and the hope comes from the vitality and [renewal] we see in nature,” states Peter Rothe, chairman of the board, Feed and Be Fed. “That helps to give us confidence that on the other side of COVID[-19], there will be a wiser, social mixed life for people ahead. We hope San Pedrans will share the life of nature in the garden.” 

In a time where there are so many challenges in the world, Feed and Be Fed is a bright spot in San Pedro, beautifying the land and nourishing people in body, mind, and spirit. spt

To learn more about Feed and Be Fed, visit feedandbefed.org or drop by 429 W. 6th Street when they are open and ask how you can help.

photo of san pedro today author Jennifer Marquez

Jennifer Marquez

Jennifer Marquez can be reached at  jennifertmarquez@yahoo.com  and @jenntmqz on Twitter and Instagram.

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