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Let’s Help the Community!

3 Dec

Occidental College, a private liberal arts institution, has always been dedicated to positively contributing to the Los Angeles community. A large community oriented advocacy organization based at this college is the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI), and within this organization is the sub-group called the Center for Food & Justice, or the CFJ.

The Center for Food & Justice is a very progress-oriented group with two main objectives. Firstly, they look to improve access to fresh, as well as healthy foods in all communities. For now, they are primarily focused on the underprivileged communities where access to healthy food is scarce, and for now, they are focusing on the Los Angeles area.

Their second objective is to promote community development, social justice, healthy eating habits, preserving the environment, and positive uses for land.

A USC community garden could prove very useful for the first objective. Imagine if children from the underprivileged schools were allowed to take trips to a USC-owned plot of land (a large one, preferably), where we could get master gardeners (like Florence Nishida) and others to teach them how to properly grow their own food. By doing this, the children could learn about how to eat healthily, and how to grow their own natural food. In addition to showing them how, all of the food grown in the USC garden could be donated to the children in these schools.

Currently, the CFJ partakes and leads many programs designed to accomplish their goals. One example of their programs is Farm to School which teaches communities how to pick up good farming practices. Another one, Project CAFE works to implement community-directed activities that relate to food and health in low-income areas within Los Angeles. The CFJ is also involved in the Grocery Accountability Project, or GAP, which engages in research and works to increase the performance of food retail corporations in the areas of food access, labeling, supply, health, and labor standards. Another program, which holds special interest for me (as it should with other Modernology students), is Project GROW. The main purpose of this is to explore the potential for gardens and healthy food as a way to improve the lives of clients and staff of grassroots domestic violence agencies. Young people literally jump with joy when they realize that as a result of their actions, some fruit or vegetable has grown.

I’m willing to bet that if a USC program similar to what I have described previously were to actually come to fruition, some bigger-named speakers would be willing to participate to help the community to help with the CFJ’s second objective. Let’s make it happen! Also, the CFJ, as well as all of their projects, are running quite low on funds. They are accepting any and all donations. For more information, please visit

Garden update Nov 22

1 Dec

In midst of the Thanksgiving festivities later in the week i had forgotten to write my blog entry. The thoughts of all the foods i would be devouring on that Thursday used up any of my brain power, but now that I am finally out of my food coma I can think clearly now.


Overall the garden, or what was left of it, looked great. I know the next day the rest of the plot was harvested so I assume I was one of the last people to see the plot at its (almost)fullest. I did however notice that the pumpkin did create a fruit, and that i suppose it wasn’t a waste after all.


Here are some of the photos i took.

Last Harvest Photos

29 Nov

Here are the pictures from our last day in garden. The photos of the post-harvest are especially revealing as to how much we planted and harvested this semester.

Notes on Working at the Garden 11/23

24 Nov

It had been a few weeks since we had been in the garden so there was quite a bit of work to do. First of all the pumpkin plant had grown so much that it was covering many plants from getting sunlight. Secondly, branches and leaves had fallen into some of the plots, especially the multicolored radish plot. Thirdly, the tomato plant had grown and needed to be tied up. Lastly, there was so much harvesting we needed to do!

We harvested only one of the dichon because the others were not ready, but we had a lot of mustard greens ready to be harvested. Along with those, bakchoy and radish were harvested. We had two plots of radishes–one multicolored and the other all red. The multicolored plot was guerilla planted whereas the other was not. After weeks of allowing both to grow, it is valid to say that guerilla planting proved ineffective. Majority of the multicolored radish either did not grow or came out stunted and in the other plot almost every radish grew to normal size.

We also found that two of the three pepper plants had disappeared and the only one left had dried up. It’s stem had turn woody, meaning it had died. The pepper plant was in the far left corner of the entire plot, an area where most sunlight hits. It was probably receiving more sunlight than needed and less water than needed. Spacing could not have been an issue because there were no other plants crowding around the pepper plant

We did find a brand new pumpkin from the pumkin patch we had not planted. There were also some new tomatoes that had not been ripe yet. Aside from those things, much of the food, like the celery and the daikon, is almost ready to be harvested. They may need a couple more days to be fully grown.

Pictures for this day were taken by Aaron.

This is post is a combination of notes from Anuja and Patrick

Garden Update 11-15

15 Nov

Hello everyone,

The garden looks to be doing well. It seems like alot has been harvested since there are many empty spaces in between alot of the diffrent plots. However, everything still looks to be growing. Im sure the mustard greens are ready to be harvested. some of the daikon are ready to be harvested too. On the other hand i saw that the pumpkin had produced something, but i still think the space should be better used for other things. And its also seems to be blocking some of our other plants which could be stunting their growth.

But overall the graden looks great. See everyone tomorrow!

leafy mustard greens

pumpkin the growing daikon


almost empty plot from harvesting

Garden tasks, continued

14 Nov

Just to clarify, the EC assignments are to help you inform yourself, broaden your knowledge base, and bolster your grade. The garden tasks are part of being in a participatory democracy, where everybody contributes something of their doing/making/being to the collaborative project.

Quick breakdown: if it involves bettering/improving/re-thinking the garden as a whole, it is probably a garden task. If it improves your mind, but is not connected to the larger system, it is probably an EC task.

Here are a few more garden tasks:

–notes on Nov 23 (2 people, MUST collaborate + compile to be considered complete)

–photos for Nov 23 (MUST coordinate with note-takers to be complete)

–visit the garden Florence runs at the MNH in Expo Park, 500w report on what it is, what it does, and how we can learn from it;

–same for the CSU mini-urban farm. See here for their hours, events;

–attend the talk on medicinal mushrooms Monday Nov 15 at the Museum of Natural History, and write a 500w report on how we might incorporate its ideas into our garden:

November 15 (Monday) 7:30 PM LAMS General Meeting
Speaker: Steve Farrar, Mushroom Matrix
Presentation: “Medicinal Mushrooms”

Steve Farrar has been involved with commercial production of mushrooms for over 20 years.  He will discuss human, animal and plant health aspects of mushrooms, including ways that mushrooms and mushroom-derived products can be used to deal with health and environmental challenges.   Product samples for people and pets will be available as well.

Los Angeles Mycological Society – LAMS is a non-profit group whose purpose is to foster and expand the understanding and appreciation of mycology (that is the study of mushrooms and fungi). We create and sponsor fun mushroom related events and help people learn about and identify mushrooms they find in the greater Los Angeles area.

–visit any community garden in LA, write a 500w report on who they are, what they do, and what we can learn from them;

–read around the website for Oxy’s Center for Food and Justice research center. Write a 500w report that brings out some of their initiatives, and hooks into our–South LA–neighborhood. Maybe make some preliminary suggestions about how a USC community garden could be useful in helping serve any of these needs.

–make a list of 10 “must-buy”  books for the library (any library). Research on Homer, Worldcat, the bookstore at the MNH, the LA community garden council website, or the libraries themselves. Also, gardening magazines and blogs may have good insights. You DO need to have read at least part of the book–or several VERY good reviews–to advise buying it.

Garden Update 11/09

11 Nov

The garden looks great! All the plants are green and the soil was still a little moist from the previous watering (probably due to the cool temperatures this week). The bok choy is growing quite large and its leaves are ready for harvesting. There is also an area of new sprouts, which seem to be growing well.

Garden Update November 8th

9 Nov

So i must apologize in advance because my camera on my phone suddenly wanted to stop working on me today so I have no photos to share (curse these Verizon phones). Anyways, everything looked great today. I didn’t know it rained in the morning, but when i arrived to the garden it was apparent in how moist the soil still was. Thus I watered accordingly. The mustard greens were leafy, the radishes were looking chunky, and the daikon looked like it was exploding from the ground. However despite all the good, I believe it is the pumpkins time to go. It has wildly taken over the entire plot and has started to stunt the growth of many of the the produce. The tomatoes also seem to be growing wildly, yet they haven’t been producing much and i think their space could be better used. Also another sad thing is that the leafs on all the plants seen to be the favorite food of many of the insects. Some of them were completely destroyed but i couldn’t find any bugs on the underside of the leafs. I don’t know what we can do but we have to somehow find a way to protect out plants from being eaten by our not so friendly inhabitants. Overall the garden was looking great and looked ready to be harvested again. So whoever wants some fresh greens go to the garden and pick them up before the bugs get to them.


Over Due Garden Pictures from 10/26

3 Nov

I thought i posted these a while back, but i guess there was a error in posting. But anyways, here they are.


that is only about 20% of the photos i have but i don’t think anyone would want to look through like 40 photos.

i hope you enjoyed them.

Garden Update 11/02

2 Nov

The garden is looking green and healthy as usual! A lot of our plants are ready for harvesting, especially the radishes, which are popping above the soil. Unfortunately, our plants are still being munched on by insects. Many leaves have holes in them and one of the radishes has a huge crack in it somehow.