Urban gardening in Downtown is a fluid situation, as evidenced by the impending closure of the East Village’s beloved 1st & Elm Community Garden after a 30-year run. On the positive side, other Downtown gardens continue to thrive, and there are more gardens that will continue to flourish after going through changes in leadership. 

Here are three gardens that continue to provide growing spaces for locals while adding green-ness to Downtown’s urban environment. Contact them to arrange a visit — and to get on the waiting list for a garden plot of your own!  



Formerly a Willmore District vacant lot owned by its next-door neighbor, the 7th & Chestnut Garden has occupied this corner since 2011. “We had been looking for plots in densely populated areas in 2009,” said Joe Corso, former Garden Director for the nonprofit Long Beach Organic and long-time advocate of urban gardening in Long Beach. “The owner gave us a three-year lease in 2011. Twelve years later, we’re still here,” he said.

The waiting list for plots in this garden is long. “Because of the parking situation, we only consider people who live nearby,” Corso said. “There’s a two-year wait, based on high Downtown demand. Don’t hesitate to get on the waiting list at LongBeachOrganic.org, though.”

New Garden Director Brianna Beyrooty Durych’s journey into gardening started in 2014 when she embarked on a Farm Apprenticeship at a Quaker Semester School and Camp in Nevada City, California. “We had a weekly Community Supported Agriculture box, sold to local restaurants, and provided organic produce to the school and camp,” Durych recalled.

“As Long Beach Organic’s Garden Director, I oversee nine community gardens comprised of 336 individual plots,” she explained. “I also manage our Giving Gardens program, which supplies fresh organic produce weekly to CSULB’s Beach Pantry. In addition, I coordinate volunteers, engage with donors, and organize events; including our Plants-R-Us Extravaganza coming up on April 6 and 7 at our Zaferia Junction Community Garden.”  



This is another garden managed by Brianna Beyrooty Durych, Garden Director of Long Beach Organic. It’s built on a small City lot that was leased in 2001 by Long Beach Organic founder Charles Moore. Moore also founded the nonprofit Algalita Marine Research and Education. The mural and mosaic on the north wall, by artists Steve Elicker and Joseph Giri, was inspired by the artwork of young students who had visited the tidepools for the first time. 

The garden formed an alliance with its neighbor, the Park Pacific Tower senior housing apartments, and twelve of the garden plots are for residents. There are four public plots, which are currently occupied. Long Beach Organic interns keep the space beautifully maintained.

“I would love to see Long Beach Organic acquire more vacant lots to expand access to gardening opportunities,” said Durych. “Despite our efforts to provide financial assistance and free education, we are limited by space. Our community garden waitlists far exceed what we can provide currently with our nine community gardens. For those who live in such a dense, urban area, having one’s own piece of green space to nurture and enjoy is incredibly important.”  

Learn more about the Pacific & 6th Community Garden at longbeachorganic.org.



Located near the 7th Street dead-end on the western edge of Downtown, with cars whizzing by on nearby freeway overpasses, Sowing Seeds of Change is the very definition of an urban garden. Enter the lush, green, and earthy space to see the results of four years of ambition on the part of Dina Feldman and Lindsay Smith, friends and business partners who shared a dream of an urban farm and made it happen.

“We’re basically an educational farm, so our primary mission is to provide vocational training and employment opportunities to foster youth and young adults with disabilities,” said Feldman, pausing to help James Wright of Food Finders, who had arrived to pick up a crop of fresh vegetables for delivery to unhoused individuals. 

The partnership with Wright and nonprofit Food Finders is just one of the many affiliations Feldman and Smith have cultivated since they were introduced by Ryan Smolar of the local nonprofit Long Beach Fresh four years ago. They are always looking to connect with like-minded folks. 

Feldman and Smith are excited to be hosting more events: Get your tickets here for their second annual Garden Chef Competition, happening Saturday evening, March 23!  

Learn more about Sowing Seeds of Change here