Posted on 05 September 2008 by

LA Unified School District Garden Program in Danger

By Vanessa Richins

It all comes down to money.

Administrators in the Los Angeles Unified School district find themselves with a $460-million budget deficit, which will likely mean increasing class sizes and discontinuing programs.

One of the threatened projects is their blossoming urban garden educational program.

It was started years ago when a man named Mud Baron started volunteering in the district. Years later the district was able to hire him and others as garden instructors.

As quoted in an article from the LA Times, “”I’ve learned what city kids can do if given a chance to grow in the garden,” said Mud, 38, the son of a Mercedes-Benz dealer who has semiretired as a cabinetmaker. “I’m much happier than I was building kitchens.””

The students learned more than just lessons in cultivating their own garden. They also gained valuable lessons on running a business. After growing plants in the schools’ gardens and greenhouse, participants were able to raise money by selling their produce and flowers at the local farmers’ market.

It has also helped many teenagers stay out of trouble. One of the participants, Jesse Sanders, talks about how Mud Baron’s program saved him.

“”When I first saw a flower, I just saw a flower. Now I see so much more,” Jesse said, plunging his gloveless hands into the dirt. “I don’t think I would have graduated without this class senior year.””

It’s sad that a budget crisis may force Mud Baron to close down this wonderful gardening program. Perhaps there are ways we can help.

Here is the website for the LAUSD Board of Education, with contact information.  I found this email for Mud Baron :

What ways do you think we can help keep the LAUSD Gardens and other such programs alive?

LA Times Article

One Response to “LA Unified School District Garden Program in Danger”

  1. Fern Says:

    That’s too bad. I think one of the best ways to combat childhood obesity is to turn kids into gardeners. It’s good exercise, and they are more likely to try vegetables if they grow the veggies themselves.

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