“We recently picked up an account at Whole Foods Market,” said Facilities Grounds Coordinator for Pasadena Unified School District, Shirley Barrett, “These kids are going to actually be doing the floral arrangement for the bouquets that we are going to be selling through Whole Foods.”
These kids are the teenagers who participate in a “teens job program that looks like a farm,” said Barrett.
The farm is Muir Ranch, located at John Muir High School, and Saturday evening they hosted the Garden Writers’ Association “Field to Vase Dinner.”
“We have about 120 people here tonight to celebrate Garden Writers of America in the most ideal setting of a garden that is run and led by the school kids here at John Muir High School,” explained Barrett.
“Tonight’s event is all about raising money for the ranch so we can hire more student interns from John Muir High School,” said Muir Ranch CSA Manager, Jill McArthur. “What’s important is to learn to come to work on time to communicate if they can’t be at work,” she added, “They can get a job because in many cases it’s difficult for high school students to get a job. So it’s a way for them to build a working resume when they move on to opportunities outside the ranch they are able to show some solid experience.”
Jeremy Rogers, recent John Muir High School alumni, started working in the program “back in 2011 when the garden had first started.” According to him, “These past years have been a great experience for me and I’ve grown a lot in the Muir Garden.” Rogers is currently studying Civil Engineering at Cal State Los Angeles.
“The goal is to give these kids working experience,” said Barrett. “But when you ask them what they really want, they just want a phone,” she added jokingly.
One of the favorite dishes of the night was the Brussels sprouts with Brie.
“They were really good. There was a contrast between the smoky, kind of funky flavored brie, and a sweet balsamic taste,” said one of the dinner guests, Shaddy Zeineddine. His friend, Chan Plett, added, “The watermelon-Carpaccio-appetizer was the best. It was a watermelon slice, with salty cheese and corn.”
“This is some really exciting time for us at the ranch,” said Barrett, “I’ve been doing this for about four years, and it’s all just clicking and falling into place.”