Monday, May 23, 2011

The Garden

Hello everyone, it's Marina Josiff. I am from Mrs. Jenny's English 101 class.

On May 14, 2011, I attended the Solano Community Garden service learning project. When Mrs. Jenny told us it was a garden, I was not looking forward to it because the first thing I thought about was insects. Surprisingly, the garden was nothing like what I expected. I thought we were going to be in dirt and planting flowers. What I thought was far from what my task was. My duties for the day were to pick the strawberries and peaches. I loved my job because it was fun and I had friends and classmates there to enjoy it with. The only thing that shocked me that day was when the director told us if we see a snake to scream. When he told us that I wanted to go home, but I knew I couldn't. A little while later when we were touring the garden I was motivated to find a snake just so I can say I saw one and so I can scream. =D Anyways, when I went to pick the strawberries, I just stood there and looked at them. I seen too many bugs and I was not willing to grab anything. So, I called for Mrs. Jenny for a pair a gloves. When I put the gloves on I was ready to work. When I started picking the strawberries it was more fun and less complaining. I totally felt like a "city girl" that day and everyone was laughing at me. When I moved on to the next task, which was the peach tree, things started getting harder because I couldn't reach the peaches. I was too short. Although, I was too short to reach some peaches, I managed to pick some good peaches. Except for this very weird one. It was a smaller peach attached to a bigger one. It was very funny looking.

I never had an experience like the one I had at the garden. At the beginning, my friends were swinging on the swings, eating the strawberries, and walking around exploring. All I did was stand all the way at the top and stare at the freeway. Being there motivated me to start my own garden. I think it was great how the garden was organic. I wish a lot of gardens, foods, and products would be organic because that will help our world.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time there and I loved everything about it. I was sad that I did not find a snake, but I did see a 'glow in the dark' spider. Who would ever think a group of college students would enjoy being at a garden? I didn't and I would go back. I had an amazing experience, an experience I will never forget. I would love to do something like that again because it was actually interesting and fun to me. The garden was beautiful. Next time I won't judge things based off of the title. I would recommend anyone to go to that garden or any garden so they can experience what I got to experience. =) I am so glad I went. I am also glad I brought someone with me. If I would have known that it was going to turn out the way it did, I would have brought more friends. It was awesome! P.S. Thanks Jenny for the gloves. I do not know what I would have done without them. (hahaha)

Just one of the many beautiful things in the garden. ------------->

Thursday, May 19, 2011


Hi my name is Vanessa Saldana I participated in helping out with Solano Community Garden for Jennifer Hicks stretch class. When I first arrived the guy had put us right to work, he made the group I was in, loosen up the dirt. At first it seemed like a piece of cake I was like" I got the easy job", but the by not even half ways through the dirt my hands had got tired.I had to get a few brakes that's how tiring it was. It was hard work, but it made me appreciate farm workers even more, they are doing there best in providing us with fruit that is not planted with pesticides and that is what we need so we wont pollute our planet. The guy also gave us a treat afterward ,he let us try the fruit. The fruit was so amazing you can taste the freshness. What I learned from helping out in the garden is there trying to make our environment a better place by providing organic fruit. Also I learned that loosening the grass was the first step to planting fruit trees. I enjoyed my experience and it made me feel good inside that I had the opportunity to help out with the garden.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Volunteering For Our Future

Hi! My name is Jazmin Salazar and as well as my classmates I am also in Ms. Hicks English 101 class. I have to say that I love this class because I like how the topics we write about aren't boring. I like to discuss and discussing is my favorite part of this class. In this class we engage in environmental topics such as global warming and ways we can fix it. A way of doing this was by actually going out and doing something about the issue. I participated in the Solano Community garden and I also brought my brother along with me.

This community garden meets every saturdays at 10 am. We showed up at 9:30 am and waited for everyone to gather along. This is a great timing because it is not too late or too early. My initial reaction was "WOW" this place is huge.

The man that showed us around was "Al" he was in charge of explaining to us how his garden worked and how he make it work. I was surprised when he said that his garden was a restaurant garden since the restaurants want to by local. After he explained this we walked about and I loved how the crops where positioned and they were just so pretty.

After he explained how everything worked he gave us tasks and me and my classmates got to cut down the flowers in the entrance, This was a exciting job for both me and my brother. I had never used some gardening scissors so big , so I learned how to use them. My brother helped out by stomping down the flowers to make more room in the buckets, he was a great help since he has little feet.

Me and my classmates cut down the entrance to the garden and we did a pretty good job at it. It was kind of tiring but it felt good to volunteer in the end. I enjoyed doing this job because I gained some experience in the gardening field. I learned that you can take the dried down leafs to do "mulch". That is why we separated them into separate buckets.

With this experience I took a little bit of the garden with me. I learned that there is still thoughtful people out there. More of these places would help the environment out tremendously, since we wouldn't have to depend on food that has to be brought to us. Instead it would be locally grown, benefiting out health, wallet, and most importantly our environment. Overall, my brother and I loved the experience and hope to come back.

Solano Community Garden

My name is Kristine and just recently I attended the Solano Community Gardena service learning project. I'm glad I was able to attend this, because this has opened my eyes a lot. When I first walked into the garden, it didn't seem like a garden. It looked like a HUGE area of junk, but it was only a matter of time until I saw the real beauty of the garden. When the director Al was explaining to us about the animals we might see I was very shocked. I knew that there might be squirrels, raccoons, and bugs, but when he said "if you see a snake scream so I can come and measure it, but if its the LARGE snake don't scream I already know how big he is". When Al said this I immediately thought "hhhmmmm I don't know if I want to do this anymore." Don't get me wrong I love animals and wild life but I had shorts on and I wasn't trying to get bitten. It also didn't help, that when Al was saying all this, a squirrel ran behind one of the trees an startled everyone [perfect timing]. One of the main things I remember Al and I talking about was how one animal being dead can affect the whole food pyramid. I don't remember the whole story, but I remembered the important parts. Al said "Remember when we were killing all the wolves?, Since there were not a lot of wolves the animals they ate were becoming over populated and they were eating more animals. Because the wolves weren't able to eat, they weren't able to prevent the food pyramid from changing. So because we killed the wolves we were messing up the food chain." From this I realized that just the little things can make a big change. I'm glad I participated in this, because if I didn't I wouldn't have known what I learned at the garden. I also picked peaches. That was a fun experience because it was something new, and the peaches and strawberries that we picked were THE BOMB! I tasted collard greens, cilantro, and chives. I also smelled lemon grass, spearmint, and I saw parsley.
I feel this service learning project had to do a lot with our unit, because it shows how little things can affect what we do in our world. I also feel we need to watch what we do to keep our world from getting even more damaged then what it already is.

Experience @ Solano Community Garden

Hello, my name is Markisse- Collette Soleta and I'm a freshman attending Cal State LA studying to become a nurse. I'm part of Jenny Hick's stretch programs and has been with her since the Fall. Since the fall the class has been covering topics that deals with the environment.The first year of college has been quite stressful due to writing a lot of essays but, I was able to learn how important it is for us to take care of our envrionment. Based on the readings Jenny assigned has made me realize that one day the problems that the environment is going through right now, may get worse. Since the class was assigned to do one service learning, I decided to help out in the Solano Community Garden.

On Saturday May 14, 2011, I arrived at the Solano Community Garden for the first time. Not only did my classmates attend, but Jenny's other English 101 went as well. I found it interesting that the garden was near the freeway because I was hoping that the garden would be in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by a lot of houses. In this garden, people come to visit and plant cilantro, broccoli, strawberries, peaches, beautiful flowers and many more. These produce are being sold to nearest restaurants. Having a local garden has helped the community conserve fuel that is being used to transfer produce from other areas.

A man named Al who was in charge of the garden gathered everyone together to give us instructions. He assigned different tasks as in: pick out strawberries, cut down branches, plow, and pick out peaches. My group and I decided to help cut down branches that were blocking the main entrance of the garden. We were given branch cutters that were almost as big as me.

After an hour, my group and I ended up doing a great job in clearing the entrance. We had to separate the branches/flowers and dead flowers which will be used as fertilizers to other plants and put them in different buckets. We had the opportunity to eat fresh peaches and strawberries that the other students had picked out. Both peaches and strawberries tasted great and juicy. They both didn't taste like the ones that are being sold at supermarkets.

Overall, I had a great experience because I was able to help out in this community. This service learning has made me become a better person because it showed me how important nature is and experience something I've never done as in cut down branches. I would love to come back with my friends or my class and help Al and others to take care of their garden and maybe eat more peaches. Thank You<3

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Solano Community Garden

Hello, my name is Gennesis Padilla and I'm a freshmen that's also in one of Mrs. Hicks English classes. Our english class has been reading, learning, and writing about the environment. For this service learning event we went to the Solano Community Garden. I had never been to a community garden before until that Saturday morning. I'm not going to lie and say that I was excited to get my hands dirty and be touched my flying insects, but once I had my job given to be by the man that runs the place Al Renner my perspective toward the garden changed. I was to get started and move around the dirt so that Al could later plant seeds in the soil. It felt nice to do something for him to later just throw in the seeds he wished to plant. I didn't think that fruit like peaches and strawberries could grow and taste so good in places like the Solano Community Garden. I have never seen another place like this one. What I found so interesting was when Al showed us a black trashcan where there was grass and things like old leaves "waste" but in reality it wasn't waste it was to turn into food for animals like spiders and for the land itself. I found it really cool how animals survive off their own environment. It was extremely shocking to me, when I took a taste at the peaches and strawberries that some students picked out from the garden. They tasted soo GOOD!!! I didn't exactly think that the fruit grown in the garden was going to be any good. I dont know why, but i didnt. I was mistaken because boy, did that fruit taste GREAT! I have learned that when people put their hard work into something like taking care of a garden, it can certainly come a long way! LOOK AT THIS GARDEN.

Solano Community Garden :D :)

Fun experience :)

Hi my name is Yessica :P. On Saturday May 14, 2011, I went to do my community service for Jenny's class in a community garden. Through out the year we have been studyng about the environment. This garden is close to China town, around Dodgers Stadium. I had a good time, I got to help out the environment a little, I wish that I would have done this kind of thing way back in High school or even Middle School. Let me tell you something even though i live close to this community garden i didn't know about it.

Even though at the beginning I was nervous because i don't like bugs, and I got more nervous when the farmer in charged of the garden told us there was snakes. The farmer in charged gave us something to do, I was in charged along with my friend Kristine and her friends to pick peaches from a tree. That tree had a bunch of peaches. In my opinion people need to help the environment out even if its just in a little thing everything counts. Everyone was having fun, the guy in charge gave the other people different things to do; some were picking strawberries, some were doing something with the dirt so that they can use it for planting season. Other people were helping to cut down the leaves from the front door. Apart from being nervous because of the bugs I enjoyed the experience. Now from reading Jenny's post i know that the guy in charge of the place his name is Al. After we finish with the tree Al took us on a tour and showed us the many types of plants there were, he showed us a lot of greens, he gave my friends to taste them, my friend Kristine said one tasted like lemon. many people think that picking peaches from a tree is easy, sure it is but your arms get tired alot. I really enjoyed this, I wish we could have stayed longer.

Yessica <3

According to Al, "There is no other place like this"

On May 14th I met my class at the Solano Community Garden. Al Renner, the man who runs the place, met us. Unfortunately, the garden is not wheelchair accessible, but we managed to get Gabby in--with help from some strong men and her ramp. The garden really should have a ramp and wheelchair paths, but I was so happy to see Gabby rolling in that I just made a mental note to write an angry letter to the city about the ADA issues. At first, my students didn't look thrilled to be there. In fact, they looked like the pictures up above. I could see their thoughts: "Who is this weird guy, and what has Ms. Jenny gotten us into?" When Al started talking about snakes and bugs, the students blanched. Al told us the he had two favors to ask: "...if you see a bug, don't pick it up. Sometimes they bite." Great...biting bugs. And favor #2 was even better: Al said, "I'm looking for snakes..not rattlers, but gophers and garden snakes. If you see a long snake, give out a big yell--I want to measure it." My husband overheard a student whisper "He doesn't need to worry about that--if I see a snake I'm going to yell for sure!" I imagined all the students were thinking they should have gone to the beach clean up.

Before we headed out to explore the garden, Al told us about it. "There's not another project like this in the U.S.," he said, and then he explained how the garden produces food for local restaurants and how they work with the folks at Homeboy Industries. He also told us about the rainwater system, which made sense to my class because we have studied water issues, especially as they relate to Los Angeles. I really liked Al's explanation of how they used everything in the garden, reusing and recycling and making sure nothing goes to waste. Al told us to go explore before we started working, and everyone just looked at him. Go explore? With the biting bugs and the snakes? Check out the compost? What's compost?
Finally, Jennifer led the way. After we walked around, Al called us together. "Did you try the peaches?" he asked. No one had, yet. "Did you try the strawberries?" Nope. He also told us why they put straw on the beds (to preserve moisture and prevent weeds) and how to grow potatoes in a tire, which I can't wait to try. After that, he divvied up the jobs: picking peaches, picking strawberries, preparing beds for planting, dealing with with the compost, trimming a bush, and cleaning the beans. Everyone wanted to pick peaches or strawberries, but finally we got the groups organized (thanks for volunteering for the less glamorous jobs, especially to the Bougainvillea team!).

I followed Al around helping everyone get started, and as I watched the students working, I saw their displeasure turn to interest. Of course, there was a close call with a slug, and Nina needed gloves to cover her nails, but everyone was doing their job. I sat at the table with Gabby and cleaned fava beans and even though I could hear the 110 freeway rushing by, even though I knew I was in the middle of LA, I was somewhere else, too--somewhere better.
The strawberry kids did a great job after they recovered from the slug, and the students working on the beds amazed me--I want to hire them to prepare my beds--when they finished the beds looked flat and perfect and ready for new plants.
As I said, the tree trimmers really had a job because that plant has wicked thorns, but they seemed to be having fun when I stopped by (and I have lots of Bougainvillea at my house--any volunteers to come trim it? I didn't think so). My husband was overjoyed to get into the compost (he's weird) and Gabby's boyfriend made a great partner.
Picking peaches for hours on end in the hot sun is a terrible job, but picking peaches (and eating peaches) on a cloudy day in LA looked pretty cool to me, and I know Jonnelly looked pretty happy when I saw her.
All in all, the work got done. When Al weighed the peaches they came out to 51 pounds, and he said they would be used for a fund raising dinner. We ate the strawberries, but the fava beans will be served in a restaurant somewhere nearby. The beds the students prepared will have plants in them soon, so when I eat out I will be able to imagine I am eating a radish or tomato or squash that grew because of what we did in class.
The compost turned out fine and perfect, and thanks to the Bougainvillea team, you can open the gate again.
In the end, we gathered around the table and listened to Al again, but now everyone was smiling.
The peaches were beautiful, the strawberries tasted great, and Al's donuts were a nice addition. Al asked the class to sign his book, and when it was my turn I couldn't think of what to write, and I teach writing, so I told the truth: words fail to capture experiences like this, but these are the best experiences to have. No one saw a snake, and no one was bitten by a bug, but I hoped we all learned something about community, organic gardening, local food, farming, and why these ideas are so important to understand, and so much more real when you pick a peach or prepare a bed for planting than when you just read about them in books.
After my students left, we hung around to talk to the President of the garden and Al. They were really impressed with my students. I was, too, but I've known these kids all year and I know they are pretty special. Still, this trip left me with memories that I know I will keep. I want to formally and officially thank Al Renner,commander in chief; the President of the Garden, India; all the students who showed up: Nina, Mayra, Jennifer, Esmeralda, Yessica, Markisse, Norma, Jazmin, Gabby, Jonnelly, Kristine, Sonia, Gennesis, Jenni, Nick, and Vanessa S.; and the friends and family members who showed up, including my wonderful husband, Robert Dunbar. Great job, everyone, and thanks--whenever I feel low I will look at this blog and the great posts and pictures and remember why I have hope. That hope became clear to me today as we finished watching An Inconvenient Truth in class. It's May, and it is unseasonably cold and rainy as I write this. In the face of so many environmental challenges, it is so easy to give up, or to bury our heads in the sand, but as we discussed the film in class, and I looked at the website's advice (buy local, support organic farms, eat less meat, get involved), and I felt the fluttering of that hope. Al told us that every revolution is started by a farmer, and maybe I'm not starting a revolution, and maybe my students won't, either, but I believe that hope is an ember, and if we blow on it, it will turn to a fire. I hope we can avoid the fires we read about in The Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler; I hope we still have time for the ember to glow, but I know that my experience at the Solano Community Garden will help keep my fire burning, and I look forward to working with the garden in the future.

Solona community garden

Solona community garden
Hey, my name is Norma Berben. I am a student at California State University of Los Angeles. I attended the Solona community garden on May 13, 2011. This was a new experience because I never done this type of activity in my life. Everything was beautiful because it was organic. I had the chance to taste peaches and strawberry. Also, I was able to see animal and insect working the ecosystem. Little insect will help make food for plants. Nothing was wasted which I found very insightful. Also, the garden collects water when it rains. This is wonderful because the garden people are not wasting money on water. Everything is reused, which is good for the planet. Walking around the garden, a hummingbird was attacking a group of students. I thought the bird was hurt or mental but it turns out it had a nest. That was very cute because she was protecting her nest. I wasn’t able to see the baby bird but it’s ok, I don’t need to see them. I was working on mixing the dirt. Working on the dirt was very peaceful and relaxing. I think the weather made my mood feel relaxing and all good. This was a great experience because I was able to eat organic fruits. Also, I found out that mixing dirt is relating. I love the outdoor and in the future I will like to volunteer at the garden again. Everyone at the garden seemed to enjoy working on it.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Awesome Experience at Solano Community Garden!

Hello everyone,

My name is Jenni Michua and
I'm a freshmen at Cal State University of Los Angeles. I'm here to share with you my experience at Solano Community Garden. I pass through Solano Garden everyday because my house is just on the other side. But I had never really taken time to marvel all the great things it has to offer.
My friends and I were assigned to clear the entrance of the garden. We had to cut branches that where blocking the gate. At first I thought it would be easy but it wasn't as easy as I thought. I had difficulty trying to cut the big branches but I'm guessing it's because I'm weak.
Even though it was pretty fun. It was interesting how we were asked to separa
te the dry leaves to another stack. We were told that those dry leaves can still be used.

After a while we gathered up with the rest. I was very happy when I saw fresh, red, juicy strawberries on the table. And of course, I can't forget those cute little peaches. I must admit they taste very delicious! I was able to take some home and share with my family.As a result,this made me realize that it would be awesome if everyone was able to plan their own fruits and vegetables. This would definitely help our environment. Since transportation won't be necessary.
I must admit that I had fun! And I would do this again not only because I live next to it, but because it gave me the satisfaction of doing something good for our environment. And hey! I got free strawberries and peaches my favorite. What more can I ask for? I also got to enjoy nature, the fresh air, and those beautiful roses.
I hope to visit very soon..

Thank you !

Solano Community Garden Experience

Hello my name is Sonia Contreras and I am in Mrs. Jenny Hick's English 101 stretch class. I was in her all girls class for the fall quarter and then had to enroll in her other class due to my work schedule. It has actually been a great freshman experience because I got to meet a lot of new wonderful people=) Through out the year we've had to talk about the whole nature and environmental issues going on today and I am glad that we actually got to do something good for the community in return. I attended the Solano Community Garden event on Saturday, May 14, 2011 and I have to admit it was a great experience. We were able to help by cleaning up the garden by trimming the plants and trees, cutting out the fresh fruit, and getting the soil loosen up to be ready to plant new fruits or vegetables. I was put to loosen and break the soil up to plant new items. I have to admit it was hard work because it's actually real labor. I can't believe my family used to live off taking care of their farms no wonder my parents couldn't get their education. Their main priority was to help their parents with their farm and well it isn't easy. Our experience was definitely different it's not like we have to live off doing it our whole life. I admire all the farmers out there because maintaining a farm isn't easy and well their hard work deserves to be recognized. Doing something for the community was a great way to start a Saturday morning. It was quite relaxing and definitely my first time being at an actual garden. I was surprised that I actually got to see a squirrel, a humming bird, and various creepy insects, but I am glad I didn't the snakes he kept mentioning. Best of all we all got to try the fresh strawberries and peaches=)
I look foward to doing something for the community again, it feels good when you know you've helped out. Thank you all<3

My first time at a community garden

Hello my name is Jennifer Pino a freshman attending to Calstate La. I'm in Jennifer's Hicks english stretch program where we been reading, writing, and learning about the environment. First year in college has been an intersting one not only because it has been a huge transition from high school to college, but the things i have learned in english class have been very intersting. Learning about the environment has scared me in a way, because if we dont take care of it all the especial things we have rigth now like water and air can dissapear in blink of an eye if we dont take care of it.

On a saturday morning i went to the Solano Commmunity Garden to do my community service for my english class. It was intersting morning not only because i did'nt know there was a community garden by the freeway, but because it was huge where people has planted cilantro, broccoli, strawberries, peaches, raddishes, lettuce and many more.

For their own use or to sell at the farmer markets. Since the problem of eating locally has become something huge in Los Angeles. Its a way to eat healthy and knowing where the food is coming from. Also helping the environment, because since its locally the transportation and use of gas is not being use.

Then the man in charge of the garden gave us chores to do. Me and my group of friends were assigned to trim the tree that was blocking the main gate of the garden. All of us end up doing a great job and clearing the way. After we picked up all the mess and put it into buckets, and picking up the dead flowers that later on would be used as fertilizer to other plants. We had the opportunity to eat some fresh peaches and strawberries that just had been picked.They tasted great, the peaches were juicy and the strawberries werent sour likethe ones that are sold at the supermarkets. I could totally tell the difference between organic and not organic now.

Overall it was a great experience that i am never going to forget.Making my first year in college even better. Helping the environment does not only made me goodbut voluntering in a place that i didnt know even existed made me feel even better. I hope me and my group of friends made a great difference at the garden. Thank you for your time :D

Solano Canyon Community Garden

 Solano Canyon Community Garden its a place where anyone could have a wonderful experience like did. I never thought that I would actually do what I did there. The farmer who works there is a very nice man who was very kind to us. He show us the garden where he has plated fruits like strawberries and peaches. we went to cut off peach and strawberries. That place was amazing. And the good thing was that all the fruits and vegetables that were is Organic. The Solano Garden its a public place for anyone who wants to volunteer. In fact, that place  make me think of how I want my future to be. I want to have a garden like that for me and people to see it. Plant my own fruits and vegetable. I really enjoyed going there. :-D