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Learning gardens at LA schools promote children's health

September 15, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
School gardens are sprouting up at some Los Angeles-area public schools.

The nonprofit group Enrich LA is helping build vibrant "learning gardens," such as the one at Thomas Starr Middle School in Los Feliz.

"Children today are not doing so well eating-wise, and we think one of the reasons why is they don't know where food is coming from," said Thomas O'Grady, director of Enrich LA.

Students create, maintain and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

"My favorite thing to eat at this garden is radishes," said Colby Flores, a 7th grader from Thomas Starr King Middle School. "We grow tomatoes. We grow lettuce and a lot of herbs."

Teachers said the students are learning healthy eating habits and gardening skills. Measuring plot sizes, soil nutrients and seasonal patterns also provide real-life lessons in math and science.

"I love coming to the garden," said Erin Murray, a 7th grader at Thomas Starr King Middle School. "It teaches you a lot about what's going on outside of our little world."

Seventh grader Angel Albarico said he would rather help out with the planting and composting over playing video games.

"It takes confidence, pride, fun, effort," he said. "It just makes the whole thing fun and challenging."

West Vernon Avenue Elementary in South Los Angeles just turned a plot of cement and weeds into their very own living garden. Vice Principle Daniel Laner can already see the benefits.

"They get to grow things that they're studying in school," said Laner. "They come out here and plant it, they record it, then they make a report at the end how well they did."

In total, Enrich LA has provided 10 local schools with learning gardens, and they're headed to John Adams Middle School next.


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