Local kids learning to garden in school

NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif. "We've got 100,000 vegetable plants coming in that won't stay here for very long. They'll be at schools in Sylmar, Carson, Venice and Boyle Heights," said LAUSD garden caretaker Mud Baron.

Baron says there's seven acres, 100,000 vegetable plants and flowers at the North Hollywood High campus, which serves as the mother ship for all 500-plus LAUSD gardens. Students and volunteers learn more than just growing techniques.

"It not just a nutrition education program, its business education so that kids can learn about what it takes for kids to run their own business," said Baron.

Its, Enterprise 101! Baron has them selling figs and flowers at a nearby Farmers Market.

"They were selling gorgeous bouquets for $3 and you could not have asked for anything better," said client Elena Epps.

Elena Epps is now an ongoing client along with Border Grill owners Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.

"This garden has been defunct for about 7 years," said Ali Bhai with the Garden School Foundation.

Bhai says Crenshaw High had a student run "Food from the Hood" program that went defunct when students graduated. Now students are digging in again hoping to sprout interest.

"It?s almost like a natural playground. So many campuses are asphalt," said Bhai.

Those that run the program say gardening helps kids' mood and behavior for the better. It also teaches them things like science and the environment, along with another important lesson -- nutrition. They learn that what comes out of the ground actually tastes good.

"A lot of them don't realize what they're planting or what they're working with is actually what they're eating off of their tables," said North Hollywood teacher Rose Krueger.

Rose Krueger teaches six periods, forty odd kids per garden class per day. She says by year?s end most have changed their eating habits for the better.

"Kids fighting over vegetables at an early age is a lifelong eating habit. We'll continue to introduce figs and heirlooms tomatoes to our high school kids of course, but if you get them early with good nutrition habits that's even better," said Baron.

In addition, here are some garden events that are coming up:

On Labor Day, September 7, Slow Food Los Angeles will be hosting a series of "Eat-Ins" potluck-style gatherings to discuss issues and take action transforming school lunches into healthy meals. The "Eat-Ins" are part of Slow Food's nationwide "Time For Lunch Campaign" which aims to influence the 2009 Child Nutrition Act.

Several "Eat-Ins" will be held throughout the city (one by our very own chef extraordinaire Jennie Cook!) and you're invited to attend any of them nearest you:

  • Cesar Chavez Arboretum in Elysian Park
    835 Academy Road, Los Angeles
    Beginning at 11:30 a.m.
  • Milagro Allegro Community Garden in Highland Park
    115 South Avenue 56, Los Angeles
    Beginning at 4 p.m.
  • Fancifull
    5617 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles
    From 4:00pm until 7 p.m.
  • Spiraling Orchard Community ArtPark
    1246 West Court Street, Los Angeles
    Beginning at 5 p.m.
  • Anderson Park in Redondo Beach
    229 Ernest Avenue, Redondo Beach
    Beginning at 4 p.m.
  • Reyhan Persian Grill
    11800 Jefferson Boulevard, Culver City
    Beginning at 3 p.m.

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