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Author: Ellary Allis

Local Lambsquarters By Ellary Allis

“What is a weed? A plant whose virtues have not yet been discovered.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson While not undiscovered, the virtues of lambsquarters, or Chenopodium berlandieri, are largely overlooked in North America, where it burgeons ubiquitously on roadsides, in pastures, vacant lots, and veritably anywhere else it finds nitrogen rich soil.  Lambsquarters, often considered a nuisance because it disseminates so industriously (one plant can produce up to 100,00 seeds), is edible and in fact one of the most nutritious of leafy green vegetables.  Author Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food, The Botany of Desire) calls lambsquarters one of the...

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Ubiquitous Eucalyptus By Ellary Allis

  As Southern California debates the ecological hazards posed by the non-native eucalyptus, or gum tree, the majestic giants proliferate unconcerned, as they have since the 19th century, when demand for wood for construction was high and the imported trees seemed like a brilliant solution to deforestation.  Farmers began planting eucalypti as windbreaks in the 1870s, encouraged by the trees’ early boosters. It was tobacco heir Abbot Kinney (as in Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice, California- hallowed ground of retail for the bohemian bourgeoisie on the Westside of Los Angeles) who was the eucalypti’s number one hype man, extolling...

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Tending The Urban Oasis: Julie James at Proyecto Jardin BY Ellary Allis

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, I meet Julie James at Proyecto Jardín, the community garden in the working class neighborhood of Boyle Heights where she is Herbalist in Residence and plant tender at large.  On a side street right off of the heavily trafficked thoroughfare Caesar E Chavez Avenue, the little oasis that is Proyecto Jardin pops up unexpectedly, announcing on a brightly painted brick wall “La Salud Empieza Aquí: Health Happens Here.”  The abundance of greenery behind the chain link fence is rare in this area east of downtown L.A., and there’s no shortage of local residents eager...

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