Gardening on "cheap" Los Angeles infill lots. I'm just seeking the 2 cents of anyone who has something to say.

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Hi all.
This is just a crazy idea that came into my head and I figured I would see if anyone wanted to talk me out of it, talk me into it, or just talk about stuff relating to it. I don't know how serious I am about it yet but it seems like a cool project in my head.

So I see some relatively cheap land listed on websites in the Hollywood hills and similar places from time to time. With road access but too small of a lot and/or too extreme of a slope to put much of a house on. Some such properties can come with additional fees not accounted for on those websites, but are basically cheap land as far as LA goes, because they are not very desirable for development.

My idea is to try to get a cheap piece of infill land like that, in a fairly urban setting (just cuz that's close to where I live) and plant some kind of mixed grove with under story plants. Something very well adapted to the area (but non-invasive) that will produce usable crop with very minimal effort. Something like a permaculture food forest, but also a little haven for wildlife. I can lightly terrace some areas maybe. Or cut steps.

I think I can predict some of the challenges that would be involved:

-City approval stuff/zoning stuff: I don't know if/where this kind of thing is even allowed so I would have to look into all that as a starting point.
-Neighborhood opposition: I think there may be ways of buying their favor.
-Wildlife/scavenging issues: This is something that concerns me more. Because the plan is to neglect the spot for periods of time, but I wouldn't want rodents coming in and causing issues with the neighborhood. But I imagine there are ways this problem could be mitigated.
-Produce theft: I'm not too worried about this. I would put up some barriers but also provide some free goodies around the perimeter to maybe keep people semi placated. But additionally, many of the plants would not be easily recognizable to the average person as being edible of useful, and I might not even actually care too much if people help themselves to some degree, just so long as they can't trip over a vine and successfully sue me.

I'm a youngish dude still so I think it might be cool to start building some soil somewhere. The land would likely increase in value and I can have a source of garden work and produce and all that for myself and my friends. 900 sq foot houses with minimal land to grow on in my area go for like a million bucks sometimes, so it might be a little while longer before I can swing something like that, but in the meantime I can have a little plot nearby to play around with. Maybe other people would think it was cool too and do something similar. And that would be neat.

Anyway, I try to daydream big stuff and then occasionally I will actually do it. So just hit me with anything you all have. This is my first post. So thanks for reading.
 
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Welcome to the forums @Mycorrhizal Fun Guy. It may be your first post, but it`s one of the best I`ve ever read on here (y)

Having your own piece of land is a wonderfully satisfying thing to do, and whatever problems you might encounter on the way is WORTH IT.
Against the odds I spent my entire savings on a 4 acre plot here in Kent UK about 40 years ago (I used to be young then)
There were no permissions, water connections, or electricity etc here then. In that 40 years (using the ways and means act) and a fair bit of bloody mindedness I managed to grow several trees and hedges, had and ran a camping and caravanning business, and built a house on it - where previously there was no permission.... all by stealth :smuggrin:

If you do ''go for it'' so to speak, I hope you will keep us informed as it happens. I for one would be most interested in following your progress.
 
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Have you read anything about the lots that were given away or sold for $1 in Detroit? Some were converted into food forests or market gardens or backyard orchards and got a lot of press. Even the TV show This Old House did a segment on them a few seasons ago when doing a house in Detroit.

Back in Rockford Illinois we had several lots converted to community gardens. Either formally or through squatting. I did a lot of work and growing with one of these community gardens that was part of a church and we donated about 1/2 the produce grown to local pantries.

I read a book a few years ago about a woman that did something like this in Oakland California. I think the book was Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer by Novella Carpenter.

There is another, very different book, about a lot in Massachusetts. The book is Paradise Lot: Two Plant Geeks, One-Tenth of an Acre, and the Making of an Edible Garden Oasis in the City by Eric Toensmeier and Jonathan Bates.
 
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Thank you so much. That's all great information. I didn't hear about the Detroit thing but I had actually thought of it and wondered if anyone was doing that kind of thing to any significant degree. I might have to look up some of these things you have mentioned.

I'm into the idea of greening up big cities in general. They don't need to be so bleak. There are a lot of unused spaces that could be green. Especially in LA.
 
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guerilla gardening has always appealed to me :happy:
 
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I think your biggest problems will be on the legal end of it. America in general has become sue happy and California has lead the way.

Rodents I don't think will be much worse than just overgrown brush. Depending on what you plant it might be better. And having people around will discourage them even more.

I would definitely look into having a partner who can stop in to check when you can't. Speaking of checking in, how frequently or infrequently are you proposing?
 
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There is another variation on guerrilla gardening where it merges with fringe edges of the local food movement. Some people have been going and tip grafting fruit varieties onto flowering trees along streets or in parking lots. Think Honey Crisp or Gala apples on a flowering crab apple tree or Bosc, D'Angou, or Bartlett pears on a Bradford pear tree.

In LA you can readily grow citrus right? That will readily take a whole bunch of grafting top work from what I have read.
 
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That grafting idea is super clever. Yeah citrus grows like MAD here. And I am also Into the guerilla gardening. Especially with stuff that's useful or native or both.

My ideal would be to find something I can go to every couple days or so, but I haven't figured out how any of that would work out. Though I probably would need someone to pop in occasionally when I'm away.

I want real urban, but that might not actually make the most sense.
 

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