Thanks to the philanthropic support of First 5 LA and countless corporate and individual sponsors, Little Green Fingers now has four completed gardens in food desert communities throughout LA County and will soon be building two more towards completing 8 model garden programs especially designed for families with young children. Each garden provides a unique community garden partnership model and includes training programs with a certified University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, as well as a cooking/nutrition program for families.
The program also includes a long-term health study to evaluate the ongoing health benefits of the program for participating children and their families. All of the gardens were designed by community members in partnership with the landscape architect firm DakeLuna. The garden beds and landscaping were constructed by the LA Conservation Corps members (at-risk youth aged 18-24 who receive invaluable paid job training and educational opportunities) with the assistance of community volunteers.
The following gardens have completed construction.
This Spring, Little Green Fingers is pleased to host the official Grand Opening Community Events for the Villa Park Community Center garden in Pasadena (April 26) and for El Cariso Mountain Garden in Sylmar (May 17). We anticipate having hundreds of community members joining local and state elected leaders at both events. The Grand Openings mark the completion of community design meetings, volunteer work days, assignment of garden plots and the first plantings by the garden families.
NEW GARDEN CONSTRUCTION
Little Green Fingers is also busy with new garden construction projects. The 5th Little Green Fingers garden will be built this Spring and Summer in Lancaster in conjunction with a new affordable and transitional housing development and its 6th garden will be built in East Los Angeles at the Wellness Center at the historic General Hospital. Our team is also exploring sites for a future garden in the Long Beach/Wilmington communities.
Thanks to the Walt Disney Company, the Southern California Gas Company, and Whole Foods, Little Green Fingers is providing supplemental cooking and nutrition classes for participating gardener families. Gardeners at our West Athens Victory Garden will be completing their class with a special graduation ceremony in the garden on April 17th that will be filmed by a national television program. Future cooking and nutrition classes will be held for the El Cariso gardeners (Villa Parke gardeners also will be offered classes funded by a non-profit organization outside of the Little Green Fingers collaborative).
AWARENESS RAISING & SPONSORSHIPS
Whole Foods Santa Monica picked Little Green Fingers to be their featured 5% partner for a recent marketing and fundraising promotion held in their store that raised nearly $5,000. Thousands of Whole Foods shoppers were made aware of the Little Green Fingers initiative through bag stuffers and social media blasts. Whole Foods Pasadena is also supporting the Little Green Fingers initiative. For the second year in a row, The Walt Disney Company and the Southern California Gas Company provided generous sponsorship for some of the cooking and nutrition programs offered at the gardens.
PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE
The Little Green Fingers team leaders recently met for a half day retreat to plan for the long-term success and growth of the initiative with the hope of expanding garden programs to benefit low-income families in communities throughout LA County and beyond.
The Little Green Fingers initiative has been fortunate to receive significant local and national coverage.
In 2013, Little Green Fingers has been able to complete the construction of its first two community gardens (Mariposa-Nabi Garden in Koreatown and West Athens Victory Garden in South LA) designed especially for needy families with young children.
We’ve begun our innovative cooking and nutrition programming to help gardeners and their families learn how to eat healthier as well as recently launching www.LittleGreenFingersLA.org to highlight the initiative and to provide gardening and health resources for families. Thanks to significant regional media coverage on the initiative including KABC, KTLA, KMEX, Telemundo, LA Times, LA Sentinel, and La Opinion, we’ve been able to share the vision and impact of Little Green Fingers with hundreds of thousands of Southern Californians.
MARIPOSA-NABI GARDEN The Mariposa-Nabi garden in Koreatown, which just celebrated its first anniversary, is thriving and was recently highlighted on Univision’s national morning program where it was named “the healthiest garden in the world.” Recently, we completed the first cooking & nutrition program for more than 20 families that consisted of a series of five cooking classes where moms and dads learned how to prepare healthy and nutritious meals. In addition to preparing a meal for more than 80 people to enjoy, the families were also sent home with the complete food ingredients to prepare each meal for their families at home. The cooking program, provided ingredients for families to prepare food to collectively serve 400 family members at home and provided an additional 400 meals that gardener families helped to prepare during the cooking demonstration classes over five weeks. It was particularly heartwarming to see kids from throughout the Koreatown neighborhood descend on the kitchen and partake of a sumptuous community dinner filled with laughter, songs and healthy food.
Additional News Coverage and videos on the Mariposa-Nabi Garden can be found here:
KMEX - UNIVISION
Mariposa Nabi Grand Opening Video Mariposa Nabi Cooking & Nutrition Program Video
WEST ATHENS VICTORY GARDEN We were pleased to celebrate the Grand Opening of the West Athens Victory Garden this fall with Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, State Senator Rod Wright and with hundreds of kids and their families. The event was the culmination of a comprehensive community stakeholder design process as well as more than four community workdays that involved hundreds of volunteers including some members of the Southern California Gas Company and the Walt Disney Company who donated their weekend time to help build garden beds, a water cistern and a tricycle path. The impact of transforming an empty one acre lot at 105th & Normandie in South Los Angeles into a vibrant community garden already is beginning to provide innumerable benefits. The garden is expected to provide a minimum of 6,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables each year for low-income families living in this “food desert” community where there is little access to affordable, healthy produce.
The garden directly serves 40 families with an average family size of 3.5 people per household; the garden will benefit 140 people directly and through partnerships with local schools and their families, it will benefit nearly 10,000 people and indirectly benefit 40,000 people.
The garden also will serve the local elementary school (Woodcrest Elementary) that already is planning field trips to the site. The school has 398 students who will directly benefit and they are part of families that make up an additional 1,393 people. We’re also setting up a program with the local high school (George Washington Prep) that has 2,130 students who are part of families that make up an additional 7,455 people.
The Community Gardeners are currently in the process of completing their Master Gardener training and will soon begin a cooking and nutrition educational program.
Additional News Coverage of the West Athens Victory Garden can be found here:
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