Ocean View Farms

Against all odds, Ocean View Farms came into being on valuable land in West Los Angeles and continues to provide a haven in the city.

| January/February 1981

If you wander around in West Los Angeles, you might come upon a sight that's sure to warm any back-to-the-lander's heart. There, on a hillside boasting a view (on clear days) of the Pacific, is a replica of the traditional household vegetable plot expanded a hundredfold!

During the winter months, Ocean View Farms announces its presence only by an unobtrusive sign at the entrance to the Little League field which adjoins it. In the spring and summer, however, the land shouts a different story: The yellow green of fresh produce and the brilliance of flowers proclaim that this isn't just another open space awaiting condominium conversion.

A Passel of Private Plots

Since the urban agricultural experiment got underway in 1977, Ocean View Farms has offered area residents an opportunity to cultivate more than just the hanging plants in their apartment windows. Plots are currently leased for $14 per year, and the gardeners report that the soil—although it's a bit sandy that close to the sea—can be very productive once it has been properly rebuilt.

According to the current OVF chairman (George Dodds, who's been involved with the project since its inception), the idea originated in meetings between representatives of CETA, the Los Angeles mayor's office, and other governmental and community organizations.

"We had long periods that were all talk and no action," he said of the nebulous beginnings common to so many grassroots community projects. After months of frustration, though, some suitable unused land was located. But—since the area in question had a view of the coast, good drainage, and access to the "amenities" of city life—many thought that OVF (and its Little League neighbor) wouldn't last long before it fell prey to the machinations of urban developers.

And as a matter of fact, the property is surrounded on all sides by housing, with apartments and condos smack up against its southern boundary. But the urban sprawl has been stayed, in this case, by the landowner: the L.A. Department of Water and Power (which originally planned to put a reservoir on the site, a project whose completion now seems unlikely).

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