Micheltorena Elementary School / Community Garden Project

GOAL:  Transform a 2,300 s.f. asphalt parking lot at Micheltorena Elementary School into an organic garden and experiential, cooperative classroom.  Grow organic fruits and vegetables; learn to prepare healthy foods and create fundamental change for the school and the community it serves.

NEED:  A recent Progress Report created for Micheltorena Elementary shows 412 enrolled students 86% categorized as socioeconomically disadvantaged. 1 in 3 Los Angeles school children are projected to be obese in 2010.

COMMUNITY IMPACT:  In advocating for these kids and community, the plan is to build the garden with he plan is to build the garden with the LA Conservation Corps & the “Silver Lake Green Brigade” – all local volunteers – to support parents, teachers and Principal Furfari at Micheltorena Elementary.  Synergy between community and school will amplify monies raised exponentially.  Friends of Micheltorena, working under the umbrella of the non-profit group Community Partners, will insure funding for upkeep and improvements for years to come.

The garden will be the first step in reshaping the immediate school environment – slowing traffic, planting trees, building a bus shelter on Sunset Blvd, and making the street crossing safer.  The garden will also help raise the school’s profile and promote enrollment.

HEALTH AND EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING:  The garden will empower a nascent movement to replace trucked in hot lunches by reopening the school’s cafeteria and stocking it with fresh local and seasonal foods, grown by and for the kids.

A garden kitchen will provide local chefs the opportunity to teach kids the culinary arts and how to cook a healthy meal.

Surplus produce will be donated to local pantries serving the dis-advantaged, teaching the value of sharing within community. Partnering with local nonprofit Hollywood Sunset Free Clinic will teach kids the medicinal uses of herbs. A chicken coop and fishpond will enhance the biodiversity of the garden and teach perma-culture.

Rainwater collecting and solar panel observation will help this off the grid garden teach environmental sustainability.

In addition to the regular school garden features, part of our edible herb, fruit and vegetable crops will be sold by the students to local restaurants, introducing early-on the concept of “income” as linked to sustainability.

Eventually, the gardens in local Elementary, Middle, and High schools will all connect via “gateways” in each school garden, poetically suggesting growing up is a not-so-scary walk from garden-to-garden, school-to-school. Older students will be able to mentor younger ones, creating a strong link between schools and easing the stresses of childhood.

SUMMARY:    As an interdisciplinary school environment and community project, this garden will be a transformational force for Micheltorena School and for the citizens of Silver Lake. It will serve as an educational tool, classroom area, and a gathering place for students, teachers, parents and the community at large.