LA Conservation Corps

The LA Conservation Corps' primary mission is to provide at-risk young adults and school-aged youth with opportunities for success through job skills training, education and work experience with an emphasis on conservation and service projects that benefit the community.
Jul 15, 2014

Summer 2014 Report

Villa Parke Community Center Grand Opening
Villa Parke Community Center Grand Opening

Thanks to the philanthropic support of First 5 LA and numerous corporate and individual sponsors, the innovative Little Green Fingers (LGF) community garden initiative now has four completed operating gardens in food desert communities throughout LA County and is nearing completion on its fifth garden. More information and photos from the gardens are available at

The initiative, spearheaded by the non-profit LA Conservation Corps, has been repeatedly profiled in local media (see full recap below) including a June 2014 profile in the LA Times Home and Garden Section. LGF has also won widespread acclaim from local elected officials including LA County Supervisors including Mark Ridley Thomas and Zev Yaroslavsky, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, State Senator Carol Liu, LA City Councilman Felipe Fuentes, and US Congressman Tony Cardenas.

When the project is completed, there will be 8 model garden programs directly serving hundreds of families in need with young children and benefitting tens of thousands of people who are connected to the garden as a grandparent, caregiver, teacher, friend or other relative. 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 unique longterm health study to evaluate the ongoing health benefits of the program for participating children and their families in order to prove the effectiveness of the program and provide guidance for other similar projects. The first findings of the study are expected to be released later this year.

All of the gardens were designed by community members in partnership with landscape architect Glen Dake. 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 non-profit LA Neighborhood Land Trust continues to work within the garden communities to ensure they develop independent garden leadership that will independently manage the gardens.

The following gardens have completed construction:

  • Mariposa-Nabi (Butterfly) Garden – 965 S. Mariposa Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90006
    The Mariposa-Nabi garden is located in Koreatown and was developed in partnership with St. Mary’s Episcopal Church and the church affiliated Celtic Cross, Inc. This unique garden has been operating since the end of 2012 and includes families from a wide range of backgrounds and ethnicities including: Mexican, Hondoran, Salvadoran, Korean, Filipino, and African American. The garden has been featured in the LA Times, on ABC, KTLA, and nationally on Univision’s Despierto America where it was named the “healthiest garden in America.”

  • West Athens Victory Garden – 10500 Normandie Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90044
    The West Athens Victory Garden is located in South Los Angeles on the only open green space (nearly an acre) surrounded by miles and miles of concrete jungle with some of the most park poor Angeleenos (or urban residents anywhere in the U.S.). The project was developed in partnership with the significant support of LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas and his staff who facilitated a 99 year lease to the LA Neighborhood Land Trust that is also developing an organic orchard on the site. The garden has been operational for more than a year and gardeners have been growing an array of fresh fruits and vegetables.

  • Villa Parke Community Center Rooftop Garden - 363 E. Villa Street, Pasadena CA 91101
    The Villa Parke Community Center in Pasadena celebrated the grand opening of its rooftop garden on April 24, 2014 . The center, which offers an abundance of recreational facilities and activities for families, now includes a garden for families with young children. There are now dozens of garden beds and fruit trees located in the outdoor Head Start Program area that is co-located at the Community Center. With a library, park, gym, and daycare center, this spot is full of kids, so the addition of a garden that delivers nutritional benefits is a natural way to reach families with children 0-5 years old and help them grow up healthier. The garden was developed in conjunction with the City of Pasadena and with the additional support of the Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy.
  • El Cariso Mountain Garden13100 Hubbard St, Sylmar, CA 91342
    El Cariso Mountain garden celebrated its grand opening on May 17, 2014. The event was featured in the LA Times and generated a cover story in the San Fernando Sun.  This community garden was created after a comprehensive process to engage members of the community in the garden’s design. Growing areas include raised beds for 39 families, a few raised extra-high for those without full mobility, and a fruit tree orchard. Additionally, there are growing sculptures, decomposed granite paths, children’s play areas and native plants that make the garden a warm and welcoming environment for children and parents alike. The garden’s agricultural setting inspired the gardeners to design it with a ranch-style fence, and they made use of an existing stand of mature pine trees by locating their gathering area in the tree’s shade. Facilities for cleaning harvests, serving food and eating as a group are important features to build an appreciation of healthy foods among all members of the family. Because the garden is a shared public space, meetings are held monthly where gardeners are invited to share their ideas for improving the garden and the community and for exchanging experiences to maintain the positive community relationships we are striving to create and sustain.
  • COMING SOON – CEDAR RIDGE LANCASTER GARDEN - 2105 E. Ave. J8, Lancaster, CA 93535
    The newly built Cedar Ridge affordable housing project in Lancaster offers permanent housing for at-risk families with children under five and was supported in part by First 5 LA. The Little Green Fingers team was pleased to partner with the developer and the non-profit housing partners to make the vision of a community garden come to reality. The garden will help cash-strapped residents supplement their food budgets with freshly grown healthy fruits and vegetables and provide a fun interactive family-oriented activity for residents as well. The project is the first of its kind in the Antelope Valley and could become a model for future Affordable Housing developments.

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 completed their class with a special graduation ceremony in the garden on April 17th that will be filmed by a national television program.

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.


The Little Green Fingers initiative has been fortunate to receive significant local and national coverage. Here are some of the highlights that can also be found at


“Little Green Fingers is sowing a new crop of gardeners, healthy eaters”

New Sylmar community garden targets families with young children”


UNIVISION Names Little Green Fingers “healthiest garden in the world.”





MariposaNabi Cooking& NutritionProgramVideo

El Cariso Grand Opening Pics
El Cariso Grand Opening Pics


Jun 18, 2014

Sea Fair 2014 @ King Harbor

KH Sea Fair 2014
KH Sea Fair 2014

SEA Lab has just completed one of our most ambitious trainings in preparation for our busy spring season and even busier summer program. Corpsmembers have received training in animal health and nutrition, aquarium maintenance, water quality, informal education, marine biology and aquaculture.

In May, SEA Lab partnered to host Sea Fair 2014; it was a tremendously successful event! Thanks mainly to an outstanding group of sponsors, participants and a committee of dedicated volunteers! This year, the event footprint was expanded, adding new host facilities, additional boat rides, and bringing the Tall Ship Irving Johnson and the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Blackfin to the list of attractions, among other activities. An estimated 2,500 people attended this years event learning about water conservation, local marine life, youth training and environmental stewardship.

SEA Lab will be hosting Summer Camps in July and August with on-the-water educational opportunities, including kayaking, tidepooling and beach exploration.

Halibut Education
Halibut Education
Jun 16, 2014

Springtime Events in the Garden

Spring gardening classes 1
Spring gardening classes 1

Springtime at the East LA Learning Garden has been filled with very fun and informative events and classes. On April 23rd we hosted a Volunteer Event with PVH, one of the largest global apparel companies. More than a dozen of their employees came to help us with general gardening maintenance. Check out the photos attached!

Our Master Gardeners, including UC Master Gardener Michelle Segura & Mujeres De Maiz lead a series of victory garden classes titled “Organic Edible Gardening 101”. This was a beginner's level series with classes which combined lectures, guest speakers and hands-on work in the garden. All students had the opportunity to take home plenty of seeds, plants, and other goodies throughout the series.

Other improvements to the garden made by our Corpsmembers include:

  • The laying of waddle on the hillsides and the use of recycled concrete for tree wells.
  • The addition of 5 cubic yards of mulch along the walking path.
  • We also received 25 cubic yards of mulch and 5 cubic yards of compost to be added to our garden.

Thank you to all of our donors for continuing to make these opportunities possible for our corpsmembers and our community. Thanks to you, this urban garden thriving better than ever!

If you’re interested in visiting our special garden, please contact me at or come by on our Harvest days, which take place on Sundays from 9am to 1pm. Remember to bring your baskets or reusable bag to take home some veggies! 

Thank you again for all of your support!

Stay updated with all of our programs at LA Conservation Corps by following this link to sign up for our bi-weekly newsletter!

Spring gardening classes 2
Spring gardening classes 2
Spring gardening classes 3
Spring gardening classes 3
Spring gardening classes 4
Spring gardening classes 4
Springtime at the East LA Learning Garden!
Springtime at the East LA Learning Garden!


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