Green Thumb Classes!
Saving the West Foundation
STWF's newest project is creating a series of courses that allow members of our community, of all ages, to learn to grow their own produce and plants that are native to Los Angeles. Nutritious and organic food is a right. By bringing people together to understand plants, each class will take place in some of LA"s most underutilized spaces; parks, yards and community gardens. With our blend of academic and hands-on knowledge, our Green Thumb classes will inform, empower and build a stronger society.
Please describe the mission of your organization.
The Saving the West Foundation (STWF) is an education-based nonprofit that highlights the importance of academic excellence, workforce development and environmental sustainability. Our work is dedicated to improving the lives of young people in both urban and rural neighborhoods.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- Central LA
- South LA
In what stage of innovation is this project?Expand existing program
Please list the organizations collaborating on this proposal.
- CropSwap LA
If you are submitting a collaborative proposal, please describe the specific role of partner organizations in the project.
We are presenting these classes in collaboration with Crop Swap LA. We have written the curricula with Jamiah Higgins, CSLA’s founder. Crop Swap LA has experience in taking empty lots and revitalizing them into green spaces. With Jamiah’s knowledge we will be able to build raised garden beds, troughs for the water to stay in and vine supports. CSLA will also show other faculty the basics of proper soil mixing, which is essential to preparing the growth of any plants. For the first few class sessions, Jamiah would also be lead teaching advisor.
What is the need you’re responding to?
As our community has felt bolstered in academic achievement because of our tutoring services, it gave parents the chance to step back & look at what else they want for their families. Parents communicated they want to be able to provide access to nature and have their children know what goes into growing food. We resonate with this need as it is part of our mission to foster environmental resource understanding. Our community is composed of mainly low-income families who want safe green spaces for their young & themselves. This is difficult for some; the high crime rate in West Adams can lead to the underutilization of parks. Human interaction with nature can relieve stress, anxiety and depression. Providing access to green spaces while also offering classes that promote social inclusion & learning about nature is the next avenue of education STWF is working to bring to life. Making these classes means our community can be outdoors while taking part in creating their own green spaces.
Why is this project important to the work of your organization?
STWF is partnered with Crop Swap LA. CSLA hires reentry citizens & veterans to build & maintain vegetable gardens on residential & commercial space. We have developed a curriculum designed around the Common Core Standards & are informed by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom. Each class has academic aspects of science, math, ELA, history, & nutrition included in the 2 hours. There will also be planting of seeds, pruning, watering, digging & gathering. Multiple community gardens already have generously promised their space to us. Each class will be run by staff & volunteers. STWF’s Director Maribel Rosales & Administrator Maria Myrick, will be full-time coordinators. Maria is a LAUSD teacher who cowrote the curriculum with CSLA’s founder, Jamiah Higgins. Jamiah would teach each class as resident garden master. Maribel & Maria would help as needed, making sure the younger students receive more hands-on assistance & both are trained in first aid/CPR response.
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this proposal?
- Direct impact
- Indirect impact
Please describe the broader impact of your proposal.
With a wealth of information, comes the desire to share it. We project that these classes & open gardens will impact the entire community. There are approximately 46,581 residents in our zip code alone. We suspect that even if the majority of West Adams does not go to our classes, there will be conversations about what we are doing, more green beauty accessible to all & an increase in access to healthier food. We want the dissemination of information on how easy it is to grow produce from scraps for yourself. The service population of STWF is 47% African American, 53% Latino, with 21% of the population living below the poverty line; 1.5 times the average for CA. 95% of our registered students receive free/reduced lunch from their schools.
Please explain how you will define and measure success for your project.
We believe in constant communication. Success is defined by the feedback students of each Green Thumb Class provide us with. As these classes are for a community of all ages, we want to make sure we are designing and serving material that the community wants. The way we measure success will be 1: how many people are we able to provide with classes? We want to serve a large portion of our West Adams population. 2: We would like to have multiple classes start happening in many different community gardens, parks and front yards across the area. Saving the West Foundation ultimately wants people to have the access and environmental knowledge to start utilizing and creating their own open green spaces. By educating themselves on growing food and plants native to Los Angeles, they are able to provide their own agency… Saving the West Foundation believes environmental education is just as necessary as academic excellence. Affordable, weekly and open to all ages, participants in the Green Thumb Classes will learn how to grow plants native to Los Angeles, their own produce and their own wealth.
Which of the learn metrics will your submission impact?
- Enrollment in afterschool programs
- Opportunity youth (“Disengaged youth” 16-24 not working or in school)
- Proficiency in STEM
Are there any other LA2050 goal categories that your proposal will impact?
- LA is the best place to CREATE
- LA is the best place to CONNECT
- LA is the healthiest place to LIVE
Which of LA2050’s resources will be of the most value to you?
- Host public events or gatherings
- Capacity, including staff
- Strategy assistance and implementation
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Santa Monica College
The ability to afford food is a known barrier to low-income college students’ persistence and degree completion. Santa Monica College is stepping up to help solve this Los Angeles-wide problem made worse by the COVID-19 crisis. Ninety percent of SMC’s 31,500 students live outside of Santa Monica boundaries and 54% of SMC students have been identified as food insecure in a highly regarded 2019 research report. SMC Foundation will extend our piloted Meal Project program to provide fresh and nutritious meals free to vulnerable students.