100 gardens in Inglewood and surrounding areas provide lasting benefits amid pandemic

Inglewood-based nonprofit, the Social Justice Learning Institute, helped to install 100 gardens in Inglewood and surrounding communities to make fresh food more available.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. (KABC) -- There's said to be many health benefits to gardening, fresh food, exposure to vitamin D and boosting one's mood are among them.

Nicole Steele, programs manager for Inglewood-based nonprofit, the Social Justice Learning Institute recognizes these benefits which is why she came up with the idea called 100 Seeds of Change.

"100 Seeds of Change was an idea to build 100 Gardens in Inglewood and the surrounding area," Steele said. "Just in the idea that if we could build 100 gardens, if we got 100 little sparks lit, then maybe that could set a blaze to this kind of healthy eating, active living lifestyle in our city."

They met that goal about two years ago by building gardens in schools, partnering with homeowners and by building community gardens including the Queen Park Learning Garden in Inglewood.

"When we installed Queen Park, we wanted to make sure that it was a place where people could come and learn that they could grow food themselves," Steele said.

"More importantly than just giving people food, we have to educate people and give them the experience to understand and learn where food comes from and how food it is grown," said volunteer gardener Vern Nishina.

The Queen Park Learning Garden welcomes any and every one to come and harvest and participate in the upkeep of the garden, all for free. The Social Justice Learning Institute provides seeds and plants and volunteers also donate produce of their own.

"I feel like it's important to have good community gardens within our community in order to provide healthy vegetables, fruits and natural herbs," said Inglewood resident and volunteer gardener Jamelle Fortuné Turner.

"It probably seems like something small but it sets an example for children and it provides a hub for older people to come and just be amongst nature and amongst people that they can talk to," Steele said.

Due to COVID, the park and garden area had been closed for some time, but Queen Park Learning Garden is now back open and available to the community 24/7. You'll find Steele in the garden on Tuesday mornings and some weekend days or evenings.

"Not just because of COVID, but there's a lot going on in the world, right?" said Steele. "We need to be able to be among community in a safe place and I thought that opening this park back up would be a great way to do that."

"Inglewood is a great community to live in and to be a part of," Fortuné Turner said. "I feel like community gardens really capture the essence of how community shows up, what community is and how to sustain community."

The Queen Park Learning Garden is located at 652 E. Queen St. Inglewood, CA 90301.

Follow Ashley on social media:
Facebook.com/abc7ashley
Twitter.com/abc7ashley
Instagram.com/abc7ashley
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.