EDIBLE GARDENS LA
Urban Haven in Los Angeles, CA
Quietly kneeling beside a bed of peppers and eggplants at a client’s garden in Laurel Canyon, Lauri Kranz in her signature straw hat and long embroidered dress, looks less like a career gardener and more like a performer onstage at a music festival. Endearingly known as the “fairy godmother of gardens” among her clients, Kranz originally moved to Los Angeles to play music and she spent many years working as a successful touring musician.
Her initial foray into growing food came when she offered to start a gardening program at her son’s school. Once she got her hands in the soil, and saw the amazement and joy on the children's faces that she worked alongside, she was hooked. Lauri is entirely self-taught; relying on books, trial and error, advice from farmers and friends, and her childhood experiences helping tend her family’s garden in Connecticut. Her son's school garden program thrived and his classmates's parents began asking Lauri to design and build urban gardens at their homes. Edible Gardens LA was born organically out of the success of that first school garden. Word spread quickly and Lauri now works full-time helping her clients work around the many obstacles faced for urban farmers; small and/or steep growing spaces, limited sun and foraging wildlife.
Lauri has set up urban gardens, beehives, and chicken coops for fellow musicians, Hollywood celebrities, schools, and restaurants. This year Lauri launched her online store with garden products and tools, developed in collaboration with local designers and makers. Recently, Edible Gardens LA partnered with DJ Anne Litt on a series of concerts in gardens around Los Angeles. Lauri feels strongly that connecting the artistry of gardening and music performance helps to draw attention to the beauty and importance of growing one’s own food. Lauri’s fascination with gardening has evolved into a passion and mission to help bring sustainable food to people in urban environments. Beyond the many gardens she tends, she is using her amassed skills and knowhow to implement gardening programs in schools throughout Los Angeles and inspire the next generation of urban farmers. (Click here to jump to her interview)
How long have you lived in Los Angeles?
Did you grow up with vegetable gardens, chickens, etc. or was it something that you came to on your own?
I gardened with my father as a child. I loved being in the garden with him, weeding and talking or just quietly working together.
What inspired you to create Edible Gardens LA?
Working in the school gardens. The planting of a seed, nurturing that plant and then harvesting the food it produces is magical for children and adults alike. I wanted to help create that for individuals and families as a part of their everyday lives.
What has been the most challenging part about bringing elements of country living to your clients' varied urban environments? What has been the most rewarding part?
I'm not sure I feel that vegetable gardens are a country element. It feels like a lifestyle choice and one that can be enjoyed in any location. It's very rewarding to see people connect to their food on a deeper level.
How have people reacted to your urban havens?
I think there is an excitement about growing your own food that is infectious. In a busy city, taking time to be in the garden, to work in the soil, is very grounding and rewarding.
What do you appreciate most about life in a city?
I like the culture, the energy of the people and the sound.
Would you ever consider moving to the country?
What advice would you give to someone thinking of growing their own food in the city?
Enjoy the process. It is not about the successes or the failures, it is about the journey.
Where do you draw your inspiration and passion from for your work?
Art, nature, music and people.
Have you noticed a positive change in yourself and/or your clients after completing these backyard havens?
I think we are all changed for the better by spending time in nature and connecting to something larger than ourselves.
Walk us through a typical day at Edible Gardens LA?
I keep farmers hours. I am up before dawn and out the door when it is just getting light out. I spend my days in gardens, working the soil, planting seeds and seedlings and harvesting what is in season.
Do you have a specific space or place that helps you feel inspired?
Walking through plant nurseries inspires me. I like being able to see, touch and smell what is in season, what is blooming or dormant.
What has been one of your favorite garden transformations?
I recently completed work on a home garden that had an unused space in a back corner of the property. The family had always wanted to grow their own food and we took that space and planted fruit trees, herbs, vegetables and flowers. That forgotten corner is now a much-loved destination for the family and their friends.
What can we expect to see from Edible Gardens LA in the next couple of years?
More gardens! We want to empower people to grow their own food. We are hosting a music series where we have partnered with DJ Anne Litt on a series of concerts in private and public gardens. We feel that gardening and music are both artistic endeavors. These gatherings are about creating community and encouraging people to grow their own food. We are expanding this series and are working to bring it to a garden near you.