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First 5 LA Funds Community Garden in Koreatown

December 10, 2012
 
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With the help of funding from First 5 LA, a community garden recently opened in Koreatown and will provide children and families with locally grown, healthful food as part of efforts to combat early childhood obesity.

Residents recently joined dignitaries, including First 5 LA Commissioner Dr. Sylvia Swilley, to celebrate the official grand opening of the Mariposa-Nabi Community Garden on 965 S. Mariposa Ave. The garden is part of a "Little Green Fingers" project spearheaded by the non-profit Los Angeles Conservation Corps, which is receiving generous funding from First 5 LA.

This five-year project calls for four community gardens to be built throughout Los Angeles County by June 30, 2013, and another four to be constructed by June 30, 2014. The goal is to provide low-income families in urban areas with free, locally grown sources of healthful food.

"Our objective is for children throughout the county to maintain a healthy weight," said First 5 LA Program Officer Jessica Monge. "We know diet, education about healthy food, and exposure to fresh produce helps you maintain a healthy diet. Furthermore, for families who live in urban areas where there's little opportunity for them to grow their own food, these community gardens are a great plus."

Nicole Gatto, an assistant researcher with the Fielding School of Public Health at UCLA, praised the garden project and its goal of fighting childhood obesity. "One out of every five elementary school-aged children in L.A. County is overweight or obese," she said. "Teaching children and their families how to grow healthy, nutritious fruits and vegetables will promote healthier eating habits and create ways to reduce the obesity epidemic."

The Mariposa-Nabi Community Garden is the first community garden built specifically for kids under age 5. It features a "crunch and munch" garden, a water-play table, Narrow Leafed Milkweed plants that will attract and nourish Monarch butterflies, and other features tailored for young children.

Participating parent Elena Benitez said having access to a plot in the community garden will benefit her family greatly.

"The garden is very nice for the kids because it's a fun place for them to pick produce," she said. "We're happy our family has this space. It's something we have wanted for a long time, and now, our children will be healthier."

The garden was made possible thanks to a partnership with St. Mary's, a 100-year Episcopal Church. It agreed to host the garden on a plot of vacant land adjacent to the church that was donated by The Celtic Cross, which is closely affiliated with the church.




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