Awhile back I shared with you an exciting project that we have been involved with. Some members of the community were striving to make Westminster Elementary here in Venice a “green” school. Over the past few years, and in various stages, we have been able to add color and character to the school to make it more sustainable and to give the students a connection with nature and food sources. My contribution is designing the master plans for these garden spaces and working with my friends, Nora Dvosin, Nancy Giffin, and Deidre Samuels to ensure this project gets the funding and attention it needs to grow and thrive.
I last informed you about the first stage of the project, which involved turning asphalt into gardens filled with organic and edible vegetables, fruits and flowers. In addition to successfully developing that, we have built a butterfly garden, a fruit tree orchard, and an urban meadow of native trees, shrubs and grasses.
But there is still more to do.
The plans for the next phase is a garden lab, which will include a covered outdoor area where the students can learn about food and food preparation. Here, the children will be able to study flora and fauna under microscopes, and become educated about the science and health benefits of growing and preparing food. What’s interesting design-wise about this space is that we will integrate recycled sails to build the canopy that provides shade. The plans also include electricity-producing photovoltaic panels for the structure’s roof to help make the project even more eco-friendly.
Additionally, this space will be used for lectures and demonstrations by Joe Miller, executive chef of Joe's Restaurant. Joe is very involved in the project and often harvests the crops grown at the school to incorporate them into his dishes. In addition, he contributes his restaurant's green kitchen waste to the garden's compost project.
We are currently awaiting the necessary funding to move forward with this next phase. But with such a supportive community, we hope to be able to move forward with this soon. In the meantime, for those interested, there are volunteer opportunities on Saturdays. It involves a few hours of gardening and includes snacks provided by Whole Foods. For more information visit the WE Garden’s Facebook page.
For a closer look at the project, enjoy these videos by the talented Jeffrey Karoff.