Russel Gulke from WestLAND group signing the survey

Tuesday – January 3, 2016

By now, we thought that we would have had at least the amphitheater permitted as well as the shade structure. Sadly, we’ve hit a few snags. In the past four months since the last update, we got several large things done. The most important was Cordie Qualle and Kenny Reyes from Blair Church and Flynn‘s pro-bono completion of the grading plan, which we submitted right before Christmas. This was done thanks to Russell Gulke’s pro-bono work on the survey of WestLAND Group (pictured above, and huge thanks). We also submitted the amphitheater, and received feedback on a few fixes we must do with regards to guardrail details.

However, since this is the first submission since we got the survey, it came to the plan-checkers attention that our structures lie on property lines of the three lots of the garden. We were under the impression that we would be able to merge the lots, but it is becoming apparent that the building department does not see that as the ideal solution. As a result, we have a meeting with Karen Thompson of planning to hear the news/verdict. I am incredibly anxious, because there’s a lot at stake. If we have to redesign the site plan, then a lot of the buildings could potentially need to change. The shade structure would have to be completely re-designed.

We also got back redlines for the grading plan and they are exhaustive. We’re being asked to present a geology report even though one was submitted.

In terms of the shipping container structure, we’re still working on the structural engineering and it has not gotten into review. Ali is still at it, but Chris left the project because he was working 10 hour days at spaceX, and unfortunately has t been able to co tribute much since our last update. We are glad to have Kathy Rhee on board with us to lead the engineering of the shipping container structure with Ali.

Mohammad Shaikhsaheb has been working on the electrical engineering for the solar array. Last month Michael Byrd, the service planner for Edison (electrical utility) created the work plan for a dedicated three phase line to be opened up for the educational center. It was hard to reach him and figure out where the power will cone from, but now we have our own transformer planned.

The next steps are to:
-be notified on whether the site-plan will need to change
-finish the electrical engineering for the
–submit shade structure shade structure
-revise the grading plan
-submit amphitheater
–finish structural engineering for shipping container kitchen/clubhouse
–finish architectural drawings for library to start engineering of the rammed earth library

signing the EWB earth wall builders contract Maria Alonso Arthur Levine Brad Mimilitz

Monday – August 1, 2016

It has roughly been a year since Hana and Kirill left for Denmark. Necils is in Hong Kong, finishing his Cal Poly summer abroad program and going to Japan within the next week.

While we were away, so much has changed at the garden; all of the land is now planted and it’s very green. It was great to be back.

Today we signed the engineering and building contracts with Brad Mimlitz of Rammed Earth Builders and Peter Jarratt, paying the $1000 towards the engineering cost from the kickstarter fund.

While we were away, we arranged a percolation test, which was done for $1000, also from our kickstarter fund. It was done at a discount rate by Clarence Jiang, GE, QSD, Salem Engineering Group, who we would like to thank for the work. The report is viewable here:,%20Community%20Garden,%20Campus%20Ave%20and%20Maitland%20Ave,%20Ontario-1_copy.pdf

We needed the percolation test to aid the design of the drainage for the amphitheater, and design the grading plan. Kenny Reyes, EIT, Assistant Engineer from Blair, Church & Flynn has been doing the work on the grading plan pro-bono under the guidance of Cordie R. Qualle, PE MCE. We would like to thank both for devoting many hours to the project.

We would like to thank Russell Gulke, PE, LS (Cal Poly, Pomona 1989) from WestLAND Group (Group, Inc. Land Surveyors – Civil Engineers – GIS) for providing a survey for the site (a $3,000+ job) pro-bono for us.

We would like to thank Christopher Nielsen for spearheading the structural engineering for the shipping container structure.

We would like to thank Mohammad Shaikhsaheb for working on the electrical plan and solar system design pro-bono.

Finally, we would like to thank Hessah Alzayed for doing the lighting design for all of the structures pro-bono!


Huerta del Valle Community Garden Launches Campaign to Fund Construction of Educational Center

Press Release 01/02/2016

Contact: Kirill Volchinskiy – volchinskiy [at]

Hana Lemseffer, Necils Lopez, Kirill Volchinskiy

For immediate release:

Students design passive, sustainable education center for community garden out of recycled materials

Three students from Cal Poly Pomona’s architecture department have been working for more than a year on a the design of an educational center for the Huerta del Valle Community Garden. A crowdfunding campaign has been launched in order to raise funds for the engineering of the library and cover the construction budget for the kitchen/playhouse structure. The remaining two structures have already been submitted to the city and are in the revision stage; we are expecting construction permits for those in the spring of 2016.


Each structure in the educational center exhibits a different set of sustainable strategies, setting a precedent for ecological architecture in the greater LA area both in terms of passive design and building from recycled materials. The two enclosed buildings are passively heated and cooled, without the use of additional energy. The whole complex will have a net-zero carbon footprint. The educational center will be built out of rammed earth, two recycled shipping containers, tires otherwise headed for the landfill, and a large solar array. The construction of the educational center will expand the garden’s mission, creating a vibrant space with a capacity for further community action and analysis.

Radically sustainable architecture is an important asset for environmentalism and resource conservation, as 40% of all energy is consumed by buildings in the US. In this project, however, the story starts from the base: a community garden. What is its importance? Community gardens solve environmental justice issues prevalent in disadvantaged American suburbs. They give people the option of eating organic and sustainably-grown produce, reducing pollution and obesity. This community lives in one of the most polluted areas in California according to CalEnviroscreen data (91761). Low-income families in areas like this rely primarily on fast-food and produce grown with pesticides. Gardens like this help communities increase their self-reliance and boost their health. The community already has numerous educational programs in place, from a literacy program for local kids to ecological awareness programs for adults and youth, but no place to hold these.

Building a permanent, public safe-space for the community to organize and come together inspires them to expand their programs and create more community gardens throughout the industrial wasteland of Los Angeles. People find value in producing and calling something their own. Gardens like this provide people with this opportunity. This reinforces the local economy, and has positive ramifications across a wide range of issues.

Our hope is to set a precedent for other communities and make the dream of a community garden every mile a reality.

The Engineers Without Borders team of UCSD (Ashwin Kannan, Ali Ismail, Jackie First) and Fariborz Tehrani are leading the complementary engineering effort for the kitchen playhouse as well as other engineering requirements.

video download

high-resolution images download

Wednesday – December 23, 2015

Yesterday we finally finished the video kickstarter! After about 4 months of intermittent work (we worked on the kickstarter whenever we weren’t working on the construction drawings), it is finally done. We have set the launch date for January 2nd. If the funding is successful, we will be able to move forward with the engineering of the library and have the funds to build the kitchen+clubhouse structure! Right now we are preparing with outreach before the launch date to coordinate with people who can share this campaign.


In other news we also completed the architectural revisions for the shade structure drawings. Currently we are awaiting a topographical survey of the site and the grading plan for a submission of the amphitheater and shade structure in early January. This time around it should pass as we received rich feedback and completed the requested changes. The goal is to have the shade structure and amphitheater permitted during the spring and the library as well as the shipping+clubhouse to be permitted early summer. Construction would ideally take place during the summer.