About 250 people have planted a little bit of themselves in a Mar Vista hillside called Ocean View Farms.
The seven-acre garden runs along Centinela Avenue, just south of Santa Monica Airport. It is one of a handful of communal gardens on the Westside and the largest of 18 in Los Angeles.
People come to Ocean View Farms for different reasons, all of which are reflected in their 16-by-16-foot plots.
A patch crammed with corn belongs to a woman with a large family to feed. Roses and daisies grow around a small atrium, where a widow sits on a stool and gazes at the ocean.
And a retired engineer cultivates neat rows of cabbage and lettuce, all irrigated by an elaborate drip-watering system. With the turn of a handle, water flows to three plots, aided by gravity, a perforated hose and earth channels.
Luz and Ziggy Fayant like to spend their weekends working their five plots of land.
"My husband used to fish," said Luz Fayant. "But the last few years it's not so good, so now we do this. We come for three or four hours on the weekends. It's relaxing. You feel better when you are done."
Like the other 250 members, they pay $3 a year for insurance and $18 a year per plot for water. A member can work no more than five plots.
The rest of the rules are set by an elected board of directors. Members say things go smoothly for the most part, although there are occasional squabbles over fences and hedges that cast shade on a neighboring plot. And gardeners who let their parcels go to weed or fail to put in their 12 hours of work a year in the common areas also fall into disfavor.
Those who do not comply can be evicted. There is a short waiting list for plots.
The Department of Water and Power acquired the property in the 1940s to build the Venice Reservoir, which was later ruled unnecessary.
The DWP turned seven acres over to the North Venice Little League in 1967. The league opened several ball fields at the top of the hill but the rest of the property was used as a drinking spot by teen-agers. Builders also dumped trash there.
In 1977, at the urging of Mayor Tom Bradley and City Councilman Marvin Braude, the land was released to the Department of Recreation and Parks for use as a communal garden. Ocean View Farms has been expanded four times since.