Boy, the kids love the garden! Today during their recess time, the students poured into the garden and worked/played with a big pile of beautiful oak mulch delivered for free to the garden by J&T Tree Co. The kids were pure physical activity as they mounted the pile, shoveled mulch into wheelbarrows and distributed the mulch through the garden paths. Ah, did I mention that the slightly acidic oak mulch is really great for our very alkaline southern California soils?
We also experimented with using a pot filled with water (olla) to slowly water, though the small holes at the bottom of the pot, the tree planted inside the red bag donated by Project Food LA. We also mulched the tree base to help preserve soil humidity.
Micheltorena garden shed gets a makeover just in time for this Saturday’s Halloween Big Pumpkin Festival. 10/29/2011 from 10-5
Today, led by volunteer extraordinaire Aaron Murphy (from the Echo Park Time Bank) we installed the solar panels (which connect to batteries and converters) atop the garden shed we built last week. The shed will hold garden tools, collect rain water into barrels and garner the sun’s rays to power the irrigation timer, lights, music, tools and appliances.
It has been a very rewarding project and I hope it can be replicated in other gardens as well. What a great learning tool for the school + a demonstration tool for the community = we did it, you can do it too!
Solar system was purchased with a grant from Council President Eric Garcetti. Shed was funded with a portion of a grant by the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council.
Today we installed a gutter and downspout into DWP provided trash can turned rain barrel. We’ll be able to use some rain water for the garden but most importantly, the whole neighborhood will be able to see how easy it is to implement and try it at home.
Community members came together in stellar fashion to build a garden shed for Micheltorena. We had school parent Peter Healy, Teacher Lisa Lewis’ husband Burnie Neal, Silver Lake neighbors Bill Mahoney, Sergio Scabuzzo and Allison Behrstock, and heading the effort Echo Park Time Bank Members Aaron Murphy and Troy Gilbert form Troy Construction a great local Silver Lake contractor (213-245-9724) who also brought two of his most talented crew members.
The shed will hold tools and a solar collection system that will power all the garden electrical needs bought with mony donated by CD13′s Eric Garcetti, as well as be a demonstration for rain catching from the roof. Thank you all for an amazing job!
The shed construction will continue with detailing the inside and outside, gutters, as well as installing the solar panels and batteries. Would you like to be a part of this effort?
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It takes a village… point in case at the Micheltorena School and Community Garden. All through the summer the garden stayed open on Wednesdays and Saturdays although the school was out on vacation. More and more community members, attracted by the garden beauty and warmth, come in and contribute = Pickling classes, garden maintenance, composting, potlucks, plumbing made easy, solar shed construction, worm tea making, soil building, crop sharing and more.
Micheltorena School and Community Garden is open to all on Saturdays 10-2 and through summer on Wednesdays 6-8 PM
LAWeekly’s Kathy A. MacDonald visited the garden and blogged about us. Here is an excerpt, for the whole article visit LAWeekly’s Blog.
“Chalk one up to green. Overlooking traffic-heavy Sunset Boulevard in the heart of Silver Lake, community activists have transformed a former school parking lot into vegetable, herb and flower filled garden at L.A.U.S.D’s Micheltorena Street Elementary School. Every Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., volunteers are welcomed to taste the fruit of their efforts, such as a just picked summer salad, straight from the streetside garden…
Sustainability, food justice and the promise of putting neighborhood schools into a new light are just some of the concepts behind the garden. Founded by volunteers, funded in part by the Silver Lake Neighborhood Council and organized by EnrichLA’s Leonardo Chalupowicz, the organizer credits Micheltorena Street Elementary’s principal Susanna Furfari with giving the consent to remake the teacher’s parking lot into a garden…”
“Before Micheltorena Elementary School built its community garden, the majority of the schoolgrounds was a vast, empty parking lot adjacent to the noisy West Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, Los Angeles.
Thanks to a few committed neighborhood volunteers, this public school is now the prideful home of a beautiful and productive community garden.
The Micheltorena garden is a real-world testing ground for students to apply ideas and values learned in the classroom, and a cherished community space that brings the neighborhood together…
The workdays are organized by Leonardo Chalupowicz, who has led the garden project throughout its one-year existence. The experience inspired him and others to co-found EnrichLA, a non-profit organization whose mission is, “A Garden in Every School.”
The group manages 11 school gardens at various stages in the Los Angeles area.”
This Saturday at the Micheltorena Garden, lead by neighbor and volunteer Jason Jones, we pickled some of the garden veggies. About 10 volunteers brought jars and got together for the experiment, part of exploring different ways of using the garden bounty. It started about noon after a couple of hours of tending the garden = watering, composting, weeding, trimming….
Jason explained that this was a quick pickle, to let stand for 24 hs and then move to the fridge and consume within the week. The brine had white vinegar, sugar, pepper corns, turmeric, onions, and other spices. We picked and sliced cucumbers, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, radishes, zucchinis, and basil. We filled the jars and capped them, and celebrated the effort with a garden salad.
Can’t wait to open my jar and taste the result! They sure look pretty!
Micheltorena Garden received a set of bowls and knives plus a sharpener from Jennie Cook, the tireless crusader for better food in schools. Jennie is a great chef and caterer, and a big supporter of school edible gardens. She sees the gardens as the portal to healthy eating habits and breaking with the vicious circle of consuming manufactured non nutritional foods.
This Saturday we had a lot of new people coming to the garden. I taught a class, Urban Beekeeping 101, on all I learned from being a member of Backwards Beekeepers. A few folk from the Echo Park Time Bank showed up to it, and stayed for a garden produce salad from the bounty the garden is providing.
We had a great time!
Micheltorena Garden, at the corner of Micheltorena St. and Sunset Blvd in Silver Lake, is open to the community every Saturday from 10-2 and through the summer on Wednesdays from 6-8 PM.
It started with a dream, perseverance, attracting like minded folk, designing, raising funds, making a reality the replacing of asphalt by a garden, building, planting, watering, weeding, mulching, composting, loving, meeting more new friends, making music, enjoying the hard work, learning, discovering… and tonight the community got together and created the first salad with veggies grown in the garden, and shared it. It took a year, and a village.
Saturdays 10-2 and Wednesday 6-8 PM at the Micheltorena garden through summer, see you there!
Inspired by the success of the garden, parents have been getting together for the last couple of weeks to continue the school beautification.
Designed by comics artist -and parent- Jordan Crane, the mural in progress at the kindergarten yard is looking awesome! Stay tuned for the final result…
The Enrich LA / Gilt City volunteer day on Sat 6/25 was a big success. Gilt raised $2000 for Micheltorena and the food by Chego was excellent.
Lisa Novick from Theodore Payne Foundation was at hand to teach the volunteers the benefits of native plant gardens (minimal water needs and food for native birds and insects) and planted many native varieties while removing some invasives.
The volunteers also applied heaps of mulch to all the beds using tools provided by LAUSD and planted giant pumpkin seedlings in the garden: 200 lb pumpkins coming soon!
This Saturday, June 25th, Micheltorena garden will be participating in a “Gilt City” event. Attendees will be experiencing a day of giving back to the community, great music, and good eats provided by the Pop-up Chego test-kitchen.
Chego is the latest endeavor from chef Roy Choi, the brilliant man who brought you Kogi BBQ and was named as one of the “Best New Chef’s” of 2010 by Food & Wine magazine. They will be serving up their signature rice bowls after spending a day planting pumpkins, painting murals, and getting dirty in this local, sustainable school garden.
Tickets to this event can be purchased at the Gilt City website, by clicking HERE. Tickets to the event MUST be purchased by this Wednesday, June 22nd by 1pm. Act now!
The time came and the Micheltorena garden is ready for the kids to harvest veggies, make a salad and learn all about eating fresh seasonal unprocessed foods. The picking was fun, the prepping as well, and all were very open to considering having fresh foods over processed, understood the reasons why and asked lots of questions.
Some loved it and knew all about eating salad from home, others were doubtful but decided to taste it anyway, some looked like they had never had fresh greens… But the reviews were unanimous = DELICIOUS!
Today at Micheltorena, Leonardo continued the bee demonstration with the observation hive so that every class had a chance to learn about the nature of bees and the art of beekeeping. Leonardo talked about the structure of honeycomb (hexagonal cells), about the different types of bees that make up a colony (worker, drone, queen), about the services bees offer man (production of honey and pollination of many kinds of crop plants), and answered their questions.
After the demonstrations, the students finally got to enjoy a substantial meal, harvested from the garden. The students picked lettuce, chard, two types of kale, green onions, carrots, mint, basil, and thyme. Together with some ingredients from the local farmer’s market, including red bell peppers, corn, and mellon, the students put together a fantastic, healthy salad. Mr. Wurnfeld made a sweet and salty dressing from olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup, ground black pepper, and unprocessed sea salt. The kids ate their greens.
The Micheltorena Garden had today a visit by Kirk Anderson of Backwards Beekeepers, a Los Angeles Urban Beekeeping group dedicated to natural organic beekeeping.
Kirk brought an observation hive and some beekeeping gear and equipment. The kids were fascinated about being able to observe the bees at work an get real close to them without danger of being stung.
The lesson included the importance of bees in the pollination process, the respect for beneficial insects, the relationship of bees and people, the different kind of bees, how they make honey, why honey is a better sweetener than refined sugar, and why to wear a veil and gloves when working with the bees.
This elementary school kids showed an amazing understanding of all of the above, some of them sounding like poets, some as scientists, some made drawings of the bees like great artists. They all had a chance to taste delicious mesquite desert honey. It was also very satisfying to find out that a few of the kids had beehives at home.
“This was an excellent opportunity to plant the seed of beekeeping in this young ones” said Kirk.
Our milk carton repurposing project has really taken off. Teachers and students have been diligent in collecting and cleaning milk cartons, effectively diverting a significant amount of waste from landfill. Ms. Markarian and Ms. Lewis’ classes have been particularly enthusiastic, coming to the garden every Wednesday to transplant seedlings into their milk carton pots. These seedlings were a hit at the Jubilee, allowing students to raise nearly $200 for their school.
Weeds have been a long standing problem at the garden, the most prolific of which are palm tree seedlings. The palm trees that line the Sunset Blvd side of the garden constantly rain seeds on the garden, and they are… very fertile. Constantly pulling out these weeds had us pulling out our hair, until Mr. Wurmfeld had the brilliant idea of transplanting them in order to be sold as Sunset Boulevard Palm Tree Seedlings! We’ve come to think of the seedlings as gifts instead of a scourge.
Mr. Wurmfeld and I have made nutrition a regular part of our lesson plans. We’ve devised activities designed to familiarize the students with the food groups, the definition of a balanced diet, and the difference between whole foods and processed foods.
We’ve been thankful for the willingness of all our visitors to get their hands dirty and help keep the garden healthy. By helping out, the students have learned valuable gardening skills.
Micheltorena Street Elementary School students, parents, teachers and neighbors, in conjunction with the Silverlake Neighborhood Council, are proud to be building a school/community garden to replace the parking lot located on the corner of Micheltorena Street and Sunset Boulevard. Come visit! Our garden volunteer days for the Spring 2011 are Saturdays from 10AM to 2PM.
Micheltorena Elementary School
1511 Micheltorena Street
Los Angeles, CA 90026
More info at the Micheltorena Website
Click here to view demographics of Micheltorena Elementary School
Volunteer at Micheltorena Garden
See more photos of the Micheltorena Garden
See detailed plans and documents for this project here