On December 16, 2019 the SCA partnered with Timberland, RootDown LA and NBA in Los Angeles to restore a community garden space at local middle School. In total, there were 102 volunteers and SCA alumni leaders who supported several urban greening projects, while Timberland and NBA Cares outfitted middle school students with new shoes. The NBA also held drills for the students, and Gary Payton came out to meet the kids and sign autographs.
The day started out with a catered breakfast from our partner, Rooted Down, a south L.A. based organization that focuses on empowering youth and communities to succeed through creating and implementing healthy food ventures. After a delicious breakfast and some brief introductions, the greening volunteers began transforming the overrun 16,200 sq ft garden into a beautiful haven for students, the community and the resident garden bunny, Leon. Teams of volunteers mulched, built and painted five picnic tables, restored trellises, installed a shade tarp, painted benches, created a three bin compost system, installed a tool shed, and pruned vines as well as fruit and olive trees.
In the afternoon, 30 students from the nearby View Park High School basketball team reenergized our efforts by coming out to volunteer with us. The students were excited to participate in greening the garden and for many of them it was an opportunity to have a completely new experience like seeing and smelling rosemary for the first time, learning how to use garden tools or how to prune. One student, Marcus reflected, “I really enjoyed painting the picnic tables. I think the garden is going to come out really, really nice.”
The SCA alumni volunteers also had very positive reflections on their experience for the day. Alum Christie Stidham noted, “For me it’s cool because I get to go to an urban area when usually I am doing conservation work in a remote wilderness area. It’s nice to be among locals in an urban setting to be transforming the environment in a community.” Fellow SCA community ambassador Alex Garrigan-Piela added, “I think this is a really good project. A lot of kids that I work with don’t understand where foods come from. We talked about pesticides being sprayed on the ground and one girl said we don’t have to worry about lettuce because it grows in trees. The food literacy aspect of this project is really important because many kids really don’t know where their food comes from. “
Overall, the project was very successful and was enjoyable for everyone involved. The 16,200 sq ft space was transformed into a safe, beautiful garden to be used for educational purposes by the school for their science classes as well as for after school programing for the students and community members. Berit, a volunteer, expressed her joy at being able to be a part of the event and said, “I think everybody deserves to have a beautiful space to spend time, so I’m really glad this project is happening today to create this space.”