Whole Life Magazine

June / July 2017

Issue link: https://digital.copcomm.com/i/832257

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city of angels Photo: Vista Del Mar FOOD FOR ALL By Kathy Vilim Empowering Students from Garden-to-Table O n May 17, a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place at Vista Del Mar Child & Family Services in Los Ange- les to unveil "Katia's Garden" and the new healthy lifestyle garden-to-table program for children-in- need. The program aims to educate children-in-need and at-risk-youth about the value of nutritious food. By providing hands-on work in the gardens, nutrition classes, and cooking classes, children who have been previously hungry and home- less are given an opportunity to grow their own food. Fresh, organic food that they have seen very little of on their plates so far, is now available to them every day. Vista Del Mar has expanded its innovative Garden-to-Table Initiative with the opening of a new vegetable garden, and a state-of-the-art Culinary Arts Kitchen & Classroom thanks to a generous $500,000 gift from the Francesconi-Tisch Charitable Fund. Katia's Garden is located in what was once nothing more than a grass-fi lled backyard behind Vista's Intensive Treatment Residential Unit, which serves as a home for at-risk adolescents. Vista's students include children with either developmental dis- abilities or behavioral problems, and 75% come from low in- come and minority backgrounds. Speakers at the event included Horticulture Therapist/Master Gardener, Arleen Ferrara and Culinary Arts & Life Skills Teacher, Winsey Lam. Celebrity Chef Das, who is now Vista's Director of Food Services, was also on hand to explain the benefi ts of the new teaching kitchen and café facility. Guests were invited to walk to the café where Katia Francesconi cut the ribbon on the new kitchen, made possible by the generous support of the Francesconi-Tisch Charitable Fund. Vista students served food and juices they had prepared with ingredients from the garden. Gardening got underway with Vista students and enthusiastic volunteers from the LA Galaxy Foundation, LA Galaxy, AEG Sus- tainability, and Vista's Leadership Advisory Board planting fruit trees and building vegetable beds. Proponents of the gar- den-to-table program are well aware of the therapeu- tic benefi ts of horticulture… getting your hands in the dirt, feeling the sun on your face. They know how it feels to watch plants grow, plants that you yourself have seeded and nurtured day after day, and then to know those plants will be on your plate tonight.There is noth- ing more empowering than working in the vegetable garden, knowing you are in control of what grows there. These children can relax, perhaps for the fi rst time in their lives, knowing they do not have to live in a food graveyard because they are learning to feed themselves. Katia's Garden serves as a classroom for gardening classes. Students can sign up for either Gardening Class or Horticultural Therapy. The Gardening Class teaches students the basics of 8 wholelifetimes.com

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