A plot that used to only have rotting playground equipment now provides thousands of pounds of fresh produce annually through the La Verne Church of the Brethren’s Peace and Carrots community garden project.
Delivering 2,300 pounds of fresh produce between January and September of 2013 is a huge victory for a program that started with the passion of just a few people.
Michael Wolfsen, a member of the Church of the Brethren, was talking with a couple of her friends in 2008 when they realized how bothered they were with the amount of people hungry in their community. That is when they decided to do something to try and make an impact: grow fresh produce.
“We cannot grow productive citizens in this world unless we feed them,” Wolfsen said.
Each of the garden plots in the Peace and Carrots garden donates at least 10 percent of their harvest to the Beta Center in Pomona.
“It is helping people, which makes the difference; providing food for children and their parents that makes a difference and I like the work,” Wolfsen said.
The garden is now functioning successfully because of the efforts of the Church of the Brethren as well as many community participators.
The garden yields pounds of fresh vegetables like sugar pod peas, beans, beats, kale, tomatoes and even pomegranates.
“In January we can start harvesting again and when we take the winter vegetables you would think I was bringing them gold,” Wolfsen said.
Families that receive the food that comes in from the Peace and Carrots garden will often have to ask how to prepare the fresh vegetables because it is the first time that they have had the opportunity to prepare them for their families.
“It is a delight to see how appreciated we are,” Wolfsen said.
Many workers rent the 4×12 foot plots for $40 a year and are able to use the tools provided at the garden as well as the water that is irrigated into each individual plot.
Members of the University’s community also work on the sustainable garden project, which helps to save the resources of the environment.
“When people grow even a little part of their own food, they are changing their carbon footprint, plus you get all of that good flavor,” Susan Shibuya, adjunct instructor of education and gardener, said.
Shibuya has been gardening with Peace and Carrots from the beginning and works to grow different drought tolerant plants as well as others.
The University’s Common Ground club rents two plots in the Peace and Carrots garden and works year-round to maintain the plants.
Caleb Ulrich, senior religion major, has worked especially closely with the garden throughout the past few years.
“I think we are often boxed into certain spaces as students with constantly being inside working on projects being on technology and anything we have in common with people around the world like seeing things that grow, is a great reminder to reflect on that universality of being exposed to nature,” Ulrich said.
Youth involvement in the garden is appreciated by people like Wolfsen and Shibuya.
“You need to be outside with nature, especially the kids because it is a connection you take with you for your whole life,” Shibuya said.
Several local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops, as well as the children from the Church of the Brethren, all get involved with the garden.
“Every kid should plant carrots, kids have to learn that nature works in its own way,” Shibuya said.
Kellie Galentine can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.