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Carver Garden Harvests Multi-Dimensional Education

Pictures of Carver Garden and interview with Athena Demos. View Slideshow on a separate window here.

At the crossroads of Vernon and McKinley Avenue lies a small patch of green that doubles as a garden and an outdoor classroom for students at George Washington Carver Middle School. 

The garden—small yet substantial at 12090 square feet with 16 planting plots enclosed by chained fences and a grand Lemony Snickett-esque gate—is the latest project collaborated between community organizations (Burner without Borders and LA League of Arts) and the Carver Garden Alliance, a joint effort between the Los Angeles Unified School District, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Service Masters, Tree People, Land Images, A&G Construction and OC97.

On Oct. 31, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa came to cut the ribbon and officially open the garden and commemorate community efforts.

Last year’s dropout rates for Carver Middle School was at a high of 30 percent, but the school and community organizations hope that the garden would provide students with a multi-dimensional education that will spur academic interests and productivity.

Carver Garden is an all-organic garden, open to the school and any community volunteers. Although it is not required, teachers can decide to get involved by building their classes’ curriculum into the elements of the garden. A physical science class, for example, would teach students about bees and pollination. A literature class would involve students  writing and reading about nature.

“Everything that grows in this garden is science,” said Athena Demos, Executive Director of the LA League of Arts. “The whole planet is mathematics. This garden takes the learning away from the textbook and into the real world.”

The garden will also teach students about nutrition and fresh produce at an area which lacks access to healthy groceries, according to Demos.
“You can’t help but learn the nutritional value of the food as you pick it and grow it,” Demos said. “You know exactly what’s going into it and you recognize it when you go to the grocery store.”

Because they plant the seeds and harvest the food themselves, students will see how a non-genetically modified seed grows and compare that finished product to the ones at the grocery store. By the end of the harvest, the fresh produce will be prepared and served to the students in their cafeteria.

“The kids love that garden,” Demos said. “It’s funny that the kids get it, more than the teachers do. The students will go and pick up all the garbage that blows into the garden, when the teachers don’t even think about it.”


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