YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Community News: Southwest

CRENSHAW : The Greening of Crenshaw High

October 11, 1992|ERIN J. AUBRY

At Crenshaw High, grass-roots efforts to aid the community have begun--literally.

Students have taken a neglected patch of land next to the school's football field and planted vegetables, trees and flowers to start "Gardens for Kids," a nonprofit attempt to give youths hands-on horticulture experience.

"With all the budget cuts, a lot of extracurricular activities are gone now, especially in agriculture and gardening," said Bill Mabie, executive director of the project. "I thought, 'If the community pitches in, we can make a difference.' "

"Gardens for Kids," which had its inaugural ceremony Oct. 3 at Crenshaw, wants to educate students not just in environmental science, but in business, marketing and entrepreneurship. Once the crops are harvested, the group of about 40 Crenshaw High students plans to start a produce business that they've already dubbed Food from the Hood. Although the group hopes to sell goods to local restaurants and businesses, half of the harvest will be donated to the homeless.

Mabie, 31, a former Peace Corps worker, came up with the idea of converting neglected portions of Los Angeles school campuses into vital areas of growth. He said he wanted to focus on the inner city, where agriculture programs are most needed.

Though students initially balked at getting their hands dirty, they became so involved "they actually started having fun working knee-deep in cow manure," said biology teacher Tammy Bird, laughing. Bird, a nine-year Crenshaw veteran who supervised the students, said she was impressed by the lunch hours and free time students sacrificed to plant carrots, radishes, collard greens, trees and flowers.

Students Cornelius Ward and Ronnie Daigle agreed that their main goal was to give something back to the community. "But it's nice to be able to make a profit at the same time," said Ward, a senior. "Money allows us to keep going, and to make the business grow."

Niombi Harris said he thought the project was "dumb" at first, but a month after the group began clearing out weeds to get the plots ready for planting he has changed his mind. "I get to see the whole process of growing, from beginning to end," Harris said. "I used to go into supermarkets and not think about where food came from, but my outlook's changed. Plus it's great to have all my brothers and sisters--and not just black, but everybody--working together for one goal."

Los Angeles Times Articles