Through grants from the California Endowment and First 5 LA, the LA Parks Foundation has partnered with the city and others to build 5 new parks. These parks are part of a citywide initiative to add more open space to densely populated neighborhoods.
76th Street Park, dedicated in December 2012, was one of the first to open. Construction was funded by The California Endowment. First 5LA sites at 97th Street, 105th Street and Amistad Park all opened in the first two months of 2013. York & Avenue 50 Park opened in February 2015 through UrbanLIFT, a project funded by Wells Fargo. The Department introduced the initiative with the former Mayor in early 2012 and has secured 54 properties. 34 sites have been completed, 20 are in progress. Click here to watch a video and learn more about the 50 Parks Initiative.
The Franklin Canyon Orange Grove is located at 1300 North Beverly Drive in Los Angeles. The land is owned by the City of Los Angeles and the grove has been in existence at least since the 1950’s. Early aerial photographs show a vibrant grove with mature trees stretching the entire length of the approximately 4.3 acre parcel. The grove was managed by the Department of Water and Power as part of the water and dam issues that exist within Franklin Canyon. In 2012, the Department of Recreation and Parks acquired a lease from DWP, as a result of the LAPF securing a private donation from the David Bohnett Foundation for the initial restoration, maintenance and enhancement of the grove.
The preliminary restoration project was completed in two phases. The first phase was completed in 2012 resulting in a tree survey, drip irrigation to each tree, pruning the healthy trees, some fencing repairs and mulching each tree well. Phase 2 involved removing 31 dead trees, removal of invasive trees along the south edge of the property, new fencing and filling in the grove with 116 15 gallon trees and was completed in the Spring of 2013.
Since 2014, LA Parks Foundation has partnered with the non-profit organization Food Forward to bring fresh produce to the local community. In June 2015, LAPF purchased a small electric vehicle for use during these harvests. Each year during harvest season, Food Forward visits the orange grove and harvests the fruit to donate to local agencies in the community. The 2015-2016 harvest season yielded 22,541 pounds of fruit, FoodForward's largest harvest ever, 100% of which was donated to local food banks MEND, Cooking Laboratory, Seeds of Hope, Project Angel Food, and North Hollywood Interfaith Food Pantry.
The LA Parks Foundation continues to provide opportunities for local, not for profit food banks to bring folks on site to harvest the fruit for distribution. It is our expectation that additional educational programs will occur on the site as the trees mature and other sustainable and environmental improvements are made and can be demonstrated to the community. The LA Parks Foundation is raising additional funds to maintain the property and pull leaking dam water immediately adjacent to the grove and establish a water containment tank on site that will provide all the irrigation needs to the grove.
The Commonwealth Nursery at Griffith Park was a fully operational nursery from the 1920's through the 1970's, when budget cuts led to the facility's decline. The facility has not been operational since that time and only three partial greenhouses and dilapidated buildings remain.
The Los Angeles Parks Foundation will restore the property and renovate the structures. The new center will include demonstration tree canopies, native plant gardens, recycled water systems, green roofs and an edible childrens' garden. Constructing a nature conservancy within a restored nursery will allow the City of Los Angeles to realize its commitment to green practices and to address some of the most important conservation challenges of the 21st century. Click here to watch a video about the Griffith Park Urban Environmental Center.