Neighbors share garden-grown produce

LOS ANGELES It's Saturday morning at the Hillside Produce Cooperative in Glassell Park.

"There's always plenty of food, and its always different," said Hynden Walch, founder of the garden co-op.

Walch says she started the co-op after seeing loads of untouched produce going to waste on the hillsides in her neighborhood. Now, there are 200 members in her area.

"Silver Lake, Los Feliz, downtown L.A., Montecito Heights, Glassall Park, Mt. Washington, Atwater Village," Walch listed.

With so many new home gardeners yielding an abundance of produce they can't use, five different co-ops have started up modeling her group from San Fernando Valley to West L.A.

"I kind of noticed just in my block a lot of people are growing," said Suzanne Lanza, who started a group in Mar Vista after growing a glut of zucchini.

"Once a month, neighbors bring things that grow in their yard that they won't use themselves and drop it off at my house on the appointed day and then this chaos happens," said Walch about the produce exchanging process.

Produce is picked and brought to one house by noon on Saturday. Then, it is sorted and divided.

On this particular day, pomegranates, onions, tomatoes, avocados and scores of herbs of all kinds were divided up evenly. Some drop off food, some come and bag and others deliver.

"It really has cut our grocery bills just in half and suddenly people in our neighborhood actually know each other," Walch said.

The bottom line is that it's a little bit of effort for a lot of good nutrition.

"It's like two hours of work a month for a super abundance of free food," commented Walch, "free food for everyone, free local and organic food."

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