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The Venice Learning Garden
Published
Mar 08, 2022
09:42 PM

About the Garden

The Learning Garden was launched in March of 2001. Since then it has quickly become one of the country’s largest and most successful school gardens.

The Learning Garden is a model example of how school gardens can transform the lives of students and teachers and the environment of their community. For several years, many groups worked with the high school horticulture program to transform the 60,000 square foot plot of land into a garden, but due to lack of stronger community support it remained mostly an eyesore filled with trash, overgrown with weeds, and a magnet for vandalism.

Today, the agricultural plots are filled with organic food grown by the high school students. Health-related classes such as tai chi, qigong, and natural food cooking are offered on its large stone patio. The garden has a large medicinal plant section for educational purposes, a pond with a water garden and waterfall, and a California native plant and cacti garden.

A community garden is tended by local volunteers, and numerous groups and organizations use and support the garden.

The Experience

Connecting to Nature

The Learning Garden is much more than a garden. For the students of the high school it is an opportunity to be closer to nature, a place to learn about respecting the environment and taking care of plants and animals.

For the teachers it is a place of solace. For the community it is a place of visual beauty. For those who have dedicated thousands of hours to making the inspiration of the garden a reality, it is a joyful and fulfilling accomplishment.

For all who come, whether to a single event or as a regular volunteer, The Learning Garden is a remarkable and unique place that touches something deep in the heart and soul.

Working in the old greenhouse
Working in the old greenhouse

Since the first groundbreaking ceremony, The Learning Garden has received ongoing support and assistance from many generous benefactors and hard-working volunteers. The garden was founded by Julie Mann and David Crow.

The Garden Master is David King. The Horticulture Program at Venice High School is taught by Diane Pollock.

Students from Yo San University of Traditional Chinese Medicine have played a major role in the development of the Chinese medicinal herb garden, and the school holds regular classes and events at the garden.

The Agape Spiritual Center is actively involved in regular work days and special projects at the garden.

The UCLA Horticulture Department teaches its extension program at The Learning Garden.

Students from Emperor’s College of Traditional Chinese Medicine contributed to the development of the herbal database.

LAUSD began constructing a new STEM building for the school, and unfortunately they required the garden space for construction vehicles and trailers. This caused the relocation of many plants and had a pretty big impact on the soil ecosystem.

After construction, the Venice Learning Garden and its volunteers were tasked with soil remediation. The soil was packed down and stagnant throughout the year plus of construction. It was finally time to regrow and revitalize the soil and bring back the beauty out of a barren field.

The Transformation

The Man in the Garden
The Man in the Garden

The progress we have made to rejuvenate the soil and bring life back to the garden has been profound and a delight to watch.

We let the wild Alfalfa grow to bring nitrogen back into the soil along with many other variety of naturally growing plants.

We did not till the soil, we let the weeds and other hearty plants to naturally break up the compact soil, which allowed for aeration and microorganisms to flourish with the incoming oxygen.

Black Swallowtail caterpillar 🐛
Black Swallowtail caterpillar 🐛

Some of the plants we use to remediate the soil are sunflowers, red clover, fennel, alfalfa, and wild mallow.

Fennel brings Black Swallowtail butterflies to the garden to hatch their eggs on. The caterpillar you see above is one of their offspring that love to munch on the fennel.

It is truly fascinating to watch this natural phenomenon and the presence of these critters really brings you into the moment and just for a moment, you're not thinking about anything, just pure presence with a sense of awe.

How To Contribute

Squash and I
Squash and I

Keep the Garden Growing

The Learning Garden is a living classroom and a place of sanctuary. We invite you to get involved in the ongoing work that supports this project. There are many ways to participate, from volunteer gardening to donations. Together, we are building a healthier future for the students and the community.

Volunteering

If you would like to come to the garden to volunteer your time and effort in keeping us growing, we take volunteers 12pm-3pm on Saturday and Sundays.

We welcome all people from all walks of life, just wear some shoes and apparel you don't mind getting dirty!

Location: 13000 Venice Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90066

Venice High School Where Walgrove and Venice meet (Access from Walgrove)

Julie, Patricia, and myself planting new sprouts
Julie, Patricia, and myself planting new sprouts

Make a donation!

Checks should be written to The Learning Garden, and mailed to Julie Mann, 2454 Louella Ave, Venice, CA 90291.

To make a donation by PayPal, click the “Make a Donation” link above. The Learning Garden appreciates your support and thanks you for your generosity!

Financial contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Shade Spot
Shade Spot
Mourning cloak
Mourning cloak
Sunflowers among squash
Sunflowers among squash
Wild Flowers
Wild Flowers
Sunflowers
Sunflowers
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