By Susan Christian Goulding / Orange County Register
A little after sunrise on a Friday morning, Felix Chavarin already was just where he loves to be – tending his squash, corn, basil, beets and carrots behind the gate that opens to a “secret garden.”
In truth, the Stanton Community Garden is not a clandestine operation. But it is tucked unassumingly between businesses and homes on busy Katella Avenue, where drivers-by can easily pass the cheery “welcome” sign without noticing.
“This is like going to church,” said Chavarin, 39, owner of a carpet cleaning business in Anaheim. “God is not a religion but a one-on-one connection.”
Orange County United Way partnered with Stanton to open the garden on city property in late 2015. The idea was inspired by a study showing that about half of Stanton’s children are obese, compared to one-third countywide.
“We went to where the need was greatest,” said Carla Vargas, chief operating officer of United Way. “Stanton is what’s called a ‘food desert,’ where people live closer to convenience stores and fast food than to grocery stores.”