Thursday, April 7, 2011

Seed Library At Venice High School!

When we first moved to the west side of Los Angeles about 15 years ago, Venice High School looked like a prison. The whole place was run down and falling apart - in the front of the school, there was a wrought iron cage surrounding a statue of alumni Myrna Loy to keep her from being vandalized, and there were bars on all the windows. The tennis courts had giant cracks in the asphalt. God knows what the classrooms were like inside.

But our story begins with the 60,000 square foot, fallow, weedy, filled-with-trash area on the western edge of the school, where, in March of 2001, a group of amazing people had had enough, and The Learning Garden was established. It has since become one of the country's largest and most successful school gardens. The Learning Garden boasts organic produce grown by students, a culinary program, tai chi and quigong classes, a large medicinal plant section in conjunction with Yo San University of Chinese Medicine, a California Native Plant and Cacti garden, and a community garden. Last December, they embarked on a very exciting project - The Seed Library of Los Angeles. For a $10 membership fee, gardeners can "borrow" the seeds of specific edibles. Each borrower commits that part of the resulting crop be allowed to go to flower and seed, allowing the borrower to return the seed stock to the library. There are occasional seed saving workshops, open to the public, which you can find out about by going to their blog (HERE).

Also, be sure and visit The Learning Garden on April 30, when Mar Vista hosts it's annual Green Garden Showcase.

I have to say that in recent years, the school has flourished. The cage around Myrna has been removed, everything is freshly painted, and albeit there is a definite police presence that remains due to gangs, it is a wholly different place. Perhaps it was something to do with the garden. Perhaps not. Either way, songbirds and bees and growing things can't hurt, can it?


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