Punk Rock + Pruners = Long Beach's Anarchy in the Garden

Rebellion, politics, class warfare and life on the margins is the core of punk rock. Seedlings, mulch, and organic vegetables... not so much. But one Long Beach DIY maven and fairly new vegan is bringing some punk passion to the garden. She's Adriana Martinez, aka Anarchy in the Garden, and her philosophy is: "There's nothing more punk than doing it yourself!"

This Southern California native says she's had the instinct to garden as far back as she can remember. "I used to dig in the yard whenever my mother would let me," she explains, standing inside the locked gates of a little garden that could--and does--right in the heart of Long Beach.

Adriana Martinez, aka Anarchy in the Garden

L. William-RossAdriana Martinez, aka Anarchy in the Garden

What Martinez does, however, benefits many people in her community. We meet up with her at the Wrigley Village Community Garden, the latest of its kind in a crop of gardens set up by the non-profit Long Beach Organic, and Martinez serves as Garden Manager. Besides her robust plot of organic winter greens, like kale and lettuces, Martinez points to the plot tended by a wheelchair-bound gardener, and the plots cared for by children. Kids who refused to eat vegetables, until they grew them themselves.

"They don't know where food comes from," Martinez remarks. A horticulture student at Long Beach City College, Martinez continues to educate herself and others about food, growing, and nutrition.

Growth in the middle of the city of Long Beach

L. William-RossGrowth in the middle of the city of Long Beach

Education is the key to living a healthier life, and Martinez's own switch to veganism is an example. She would advise anyone making the switch to consider doing so gradually, and to read up and inform themselves as much as possible. With few options for buying healthy and organic fare from stores other than "big-box" chains like Ralphs, growing your own food can also be a valuable option for anyone looking to get more green in their diet. "Join a community garden," urges Martinez, "and if there isn't one in your neighborhood, start one!"

Martinez, whose husband is an omnivore who pretty much leaves the veggie-eating to her, seems at ease forging her own path, whether its to keep a cruelty-free diet or to encourage the diverse and often under-served people in her neighborhood to grow their own fresh, organic, seasonal produce. She's a firm believer in eating by the seasons, and understanding the difference between the supermarket fallacy of the perennial in-season tomato and the real, local tomato-growing season.

Much of Martinez' eating choices come from the abundance of her garden, both the plot at Wrigley Village or the raised beds she cultivates at her home, and estimates that about half of what she eats she grows herself. She admits that she's got a crisper crammed full of fresh produce, and often trades or gives away what she harvests from her urban garden.

And she gives, too, not only in person in the garden, but online through her blog and Twitter, and appreciates the value of social media and the internet to create and sustain connections. She runs a podcast, too, which is where the punk rock comes in again--this time not only in spirit, but in the energetic and forceful beats of the music she shares.

Winter greens grown in Martinez's plot

L. William-RossWinter greens grown in Martinez's plot