Remember Swales?

Feb 21, 2012

Throop board member Michael Kelley. Photo: Rosamond C. Rodman

Back in October we published a post about a permaculture-based garden that was being created, replacing a 3,000 square-foot, water-greedy lawn at Throop Unitarian Universalist Church. Swale-building was on the menu the very first weekend, and in our article’s opening paragraph, we actually had to define “swale,” because, well, that’s just not a part of our everyday vocabulary. In case you missed it (and you’re not a permaculture aficionado), a swale is a depression in the slope of a plot that functions to capture water runoff, a signature of permaculture design.

Good news: the swale pathways are ready for pedestrian traffic!

North East Los Angeles Transition (NELA) helped Throop with the garden’s design and provided the brawny volunteers needed for removal of the sod, while the Pasadena Water and Power Department provided crucial funds through their sod-removal rebate program.

Caltech's gift of an olive tree. Photo: Rosamond C. Rodman

Furthermore, Caltech has provided a mature olive tree to grace this functional “learning” garden, which is appropriate as Amos Throop founded the university, was the third mayor of Pasadena, and is the church’s namesake. Within a circle, paths will cross.

Now, what was once a “scraggly and vengeful” lawn is, through community, collaborative and cooperative effort, a sustainable urban food-forest with vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees.

As a lifelong Universalist, Mr. Throop believed in a loving and inclusive world. “It takes a village to transition a lawn.”

Mr. Throop, if you could see your city now.



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