Published : Wednesday, November 5, 2014 | 3:12 AM
Westridge 7th Grade Service Learning partnered with the Pasadena Community Gardens Conservancy (PCGC) to explore the impact of community gardens and to plant the south Community Garden bed at Westridge. Service Learning Coordinator Becca Marcus identified the Conservancy as a fit for Westridge because the project related directly to what students learned about food security and food deserts, specifically how a lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables can have negative health effects and increase the likelihood of obesity, especially in low-income areas.
The Conservancy is a nonprofit organization, co-founded in 2012 by Brooke Larsen Garlock ’70, a Westridge Trustee, to improve the public health of families living in Northwest Pasadena’s “food desert” through grants for community gardens and nutrition education. Beth Fishbein Hansen ’83, sits on the PCGC Board of Directors, as does Donald E. Hall, a former Westridge Trustee and parent of an alumna.
Hansen took Marcus’ class to visit the Conservancy’s first project, the Villa-Parke Community Garden, located at a city-owned park and later, Conservancy President Eileen White Read visited Westridge to help students plant their own raised-bed winter vegetable garden. Service Learning Coordinator Becca Marcus said this about the experience, “Working with PCGC helped the students gain an understanding of the importance of community gardens. Next quarter, we hope to work with Mrs. Read again to learn how to harvest the vegetables.”
The Conservancy’s vision is a sustainable network of community gardens throughout Northwest Pasadena – gardens to serve as sources of healthful fruits and vegetables, as well as centers for learning how to strengthen our bodies, create cleaner air and water, and build a greener city for us all. The Conservancy’s $100,000, 5-year subsidy pays for a Master Gardener and a Nutritionist to work with 110 families on raising their own food and incorporating more fruits and vegetables into their diets.
Westridge School, 324 Madeline Drive, Pasadena, (626) 799-1053 ext. 200 or visit www.westridge.org.