I began working with LA’s BEST in 1989 and have had the privilege of watching the organization grow, alongside our students, families and community members. My vision for LA’s BEST has always been to provide students with a variety of engaging educational experiences that will plant the seeds of their futures. This work is extremely meaningful to me because I whole-heartedly believe these opportunities can help grow and strengthen our communities.
Our school gardens are rooted in nutrition education. They have expanded into outdoor learning centers which provide opportunities for connection and cultivation of the whole child. We began our garden program by building simple 4x4x1 foot high planter boxes as a means to teach the students about seeds, parts of plants and the cultivation process. When our kids witness the growth process from start to finish, they develop a sense of pride and understanding of the food they grew from seed, as well as an appreciation for the nutritional benefits. The gardens became a fun and exciting way to enhance our nutrition program. We have also seen how gardens provide additional academic, physical, social-emotional, and environmental benefits.
The hands-on “disguised learning” and engagement that gardening provides is important to our students’ development. I enjoy being able to provide these kinds of opportunities to students. I want there to be an abundance of opportunities for students to learn about nutrition, gardening and health. With generous support from our partners, we have been able to expand and convert the small garden boxes into larger outdoor learning centers. We hope to grow afterschool gardening programs at more LA’s BEST schools. The seeds students are planting now will not only create healthy fruits and vegetables, but it will create a path for a healthier future.
Watch this video to hear more about Edith’s story and see more community gardens.