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Urban vegetable gardens: how to get fresh vegetables and greens for free in Los Angeles

For lettuce leaves in this area of ​​Los Angeles, you do not have to go to the store, you can pick them right from the garden. Ashley Ebel does just that, says "Voice of America".

Photo: Shutterstock

“I always learn a lot when I come here,” says Ashley, a resident of Inglewood. - This is the place where I enjoy nature and relax. Here you can take fresh vegetables for free, because for some it is an expensive pleasure. Anyone can come and pick lettuce leaves, tomatoes, whatever they don’t have, but it’s expensive to buy, especially during a pandemic. ”

These community gardens in Inglewood are created by a social justice charity. Project manager Nicole Steele talks about this. In total, there are 100 such gardens in the program, and during a pandemic, they help those who find themselves without work, and therefore without a livelihood, as never before.

“In areas like ours, where the poor, often racial minorities, live on unhealthy foods,” Nicole says. - If you pay attention, there are many fast food restaurants around the parks. People do not know anything about healthy food, and we want to teach them not only to eat healthy, but also to show where healthy food comes from, how it grows and how you can grow it yourself. ”

Photo: video frame "Voices of America"

You can grow vegetables with your neighbors and even experience different cultures. True, now the inhabitants of Inglewood do it from a distance, observing quarantine measures.

“They wanted to have a place where they could plant something, grow something, learn something together,” says Nicole. - We always have greens: peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, cucumbers. People living near the park bring plant seeds from their countries. For example, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic once planted seeds that he brought from his homeland. "

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According to statistics, in Los Angeles, 800 thousand people periodically do not have enough money to buy food. To somehow help the people affected by the pandemic, the regional authorities have allocated more than $ 2 billion. 5,5 million low-income Californians will soon receive $ 600 from the local budget.

This aid is one-time, but the public gardens, says Nicole, have become a constant source of organic vegetables for the residents of the areas where they are located. What you sow with your neighbors is what you eat.

Photo: video frame "Voices of America"

How did “100 vegetable gardens” appear?

Gardening is said to bring many health benefits: fresh produce, vitamin D exposure and improved mood are all part of it, notes ABC7.

Nicole Steele, program manager at the nonprofit Social Justice Institute, recognizes these benefits, so she came up with the idea for a program called "100 Seeds of Change".

“100 Seeds of Change” is the idea of ​​building 100 vegetable gardens in and around Inglewood, Steele said. "This is the idea that if we could build 100 vegetable gardens, if we lit 100 little sparks, then maybe that could ignite the passion for healthy eating and active living in our city."

Achieved this goal about two years ago by building vegetable gardens in schools, collaborating with homeowners and creating community vegetable gardens, including the Learning Garden at Queen Park in Inglewood.

“When we created Queen Park, we wanted to make sure it's a place where people can come and find out that they can grow their own food,” Nicole said.

Photo: video frame "Voices of America"

“More important than just giving people food is educating people and empowering them to understand and learn where the food comes from and how it is grown,” said volunteer gardener Vern Nishina.

The Queen Park Teaching Garden invites everyone to come, harvest and take part in gardening - all for free. The Institute for Social Justice Education provides seeds and plants, and volunteers also donate their products.

“It probably sounds small, but the vegetable garden serves as an example for children and a place for seniors to come and just be in nature and among those with whom to talk,” says Steele.

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Due to COVID, the park and vegetable garden has been closed for some time, but the Queen Park training garden is now reopened and available to the community 24/7. Nicole Steele works in the garden on Tuesday mornings or on some weekend evenings.

The Queen Park Teaching Garden is located at 652 E. Queen St. Inglewood, CA 90301.

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