Photostory: In the garden of Eden
Living in a house with the luxury of a lawn and backyard is not a reality for most students who are not living at home. The average studio apartment’s kitchen doesn’t allow for a lot of food storage. The combination ultimately results in dining out a lot and eating unhealthy dishes because, more often than not, they’re cheaper.
For a determined environmental major like Cheyenne Morrill, 22, this is a reality she does not accept.
In her small Palms apartment, shared with multiple roommates, Cheyenne found a way to maintain a healthy, organic, sustainable, cheap lifestyle that is truly rewarding.
Her flat is an ordinary, two-story complex, with cramped outdoor space shared by multiple families. Anyone would be surprised to find that behind the complex, in a space previously only used to store trash bins, is an inventive organic treasure trove.
In her backyard, which only receives four hours of sunlight a day, Cheyenne manages to keep more than a dozen fruits and vegetables healthy, happy and providing her with fresh produce every day. “Its not much, but its a lot,” she says.
She created a garden of Eden in a city of steel and smog.
Previously a fashion design student at the University of Dubai, Cheyenne quickly became frustrated and disillusioned with her education there and her life in the Middle East.
“Everything is fake there,” she says, adding that all of the food is shipped there because the environment is too harsh to grow produce. Slowly, the food Cheyenne consumed and the lifestyle there began to make her feel sick.
So, when she was 21, she left behind her mother, step-father, brother and three adopted sisters for America where she was originally born.
After returning to Los Angeles and enrolling at Santa Monica College, Cheyenne Changed her major to environmental studies and began living the kind of recycle-conscious life she has longed for since she was a child.
“Everything that you need…already exists and somebody’s getting rid of it. Everything is already here for us, so why buy new stuff.”
She grows all of her plants out of containers she found in alleys or dumpsters.
Most of her plants were either gifted from farmers markets, nurseries or even found in her homemade vermicompost (highly nutritious worm casing compost). She never throws away any used soil or plant, unless it is compromised by disease.
Besides reusing her materials, Cheyenne makes a conscious effort to avoid throwing things away in the trash, or as she calls it, “the black bin.”
Her garden, she says, changed her life and everything about her. From her raspberries, strawberries and dinosaur kale to her highly sought after blueberries by neighboring blue jays. Her garden is her family.
While her garden affords her daily healthy food options, she laments eating them, “I feel bad for eating plants all the time…They’re living things, they’re alive. So that’s why I just try to give them the best life they deserve,” she says.
She explains that love is the most important thing to give to her plants. “I look at all of my plants, I look at all of their leaves. That’s love. Giving them the attention…that they deserve, because they are providing you with their life, basically.”
While Cheyenne dreams of having her own farm and living a sustainable, healthy life, she also feels it is her duty to educate others about how simple being a gardener really is.
Anyone with the space to grow, should be growing, she says, adding that “[A garden] just needs love, you just need to be a caring person to have a garden.”