Monday, March 8, 2021

10:00 A.M. - Noon

How to Create a Bountiful Vegetable Garden

with Charles Southward

Charles Southward is a US Air Force veteran who became homeless for the first time after returning to Riverside, CA in 2005. After four years of spending half of his social security check on numerous room rentals and struggling to make ends meet, he arrived at an organization called “Hope Again” in Hollywood, CA, where he resided for two years. The owner of "Hope Again" happened to manage a classic-style, apartment building with swimming pool off Hollywood Blvd. The landscape was in very bad shape and so Charles spent the next six months restoring the property's landscape to its original Hollywood star status.

It is during this time that Charles did some serious soul-searching and came to realize that he had a special talent for landscaping and a true gift for gardening. Having started gardening at the age of five, every task for the landscaping project seemed to come naturally to him.

After briefly being homeless again in 2014, the VA homeless program found him a home at the Salvation Army Bell Shelter, where he volunteered in their small vegetable garden. Recognizing his talent, the shelter's associate director offered Charles a small section of land (1,150 sq ft) to produce healthy vegetables for the homeless, but under the condition that he would have to finance it out of his own pocket.

In the fall of 2014, Charles founded IGH Gardens (In God's Hands), subsidized via his social security. Since then, IGH Gardens (now a non-profit and "teaching garden") has been producing more than 3,900 lbs of fresh organic produce and vegetables annually with proceeds being donated to the homeless, in particular women and children shelters, and underserved communities in the metro Los Angeles area.

Thanks to regional supporters, IGH Gardens was recently able to relocate to an area four-times the size of the original spot, thus allowing for increased productivity.

Charles is an active content contributor on our Club's Facebook page, and the pictures and videos of his gardens' bountiful crops and harvests never cease to amaze. Charles will be sharing his expertise with us, and offering tips on how to create and maintain a bountiful, organic vegetable garden. His presentation will also include slides.

You'll find info, pictures and videos of IGH Gardens at and on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.


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