Meet Project Youth Green!
The Youth Speak! Collective transformed a forgotten dump site behind Roger Jessup Park in Pacoima into the Project Youth Green Community Garden in 2008, and today the garden is a thriving community providing Pacoima residents access to green space and healthy food. Gardeners, ranging in age from 20’s to 60’s, pay a monthly fee and give two hours of community service each month in exchange for membership. The garden contains 60 individual 8 x 20 ft. raised beds for individual growing, and communal garden space consisting of medicinal plants, fruit trees, bird and butterfly gardens, and crops such as garlic, beets, and onions.
Danaelle Arroyo, Garden Facilitator, explains that the garden provides a safe place to get away from the stress of work and home, it offers fresh fruits and vegetables to serve your family, and it is place to pass on gardening skills to the next generation. Danaelle organizes educational programs including fruit tree pruning and canning. New garden initiatives for 2014 include selling communal produce to local restaurants and new programs focused on exercise and healthy eating.
Many organizations conduct volunteer work days at the garden and high school and college students volunteer to get hands-on experience and community service. Danaelle says, “We offer a sense of connection to the outdoors. Volunteering gives people a sense of pride in their community and the satisfaction of making a difference for a good local cause.”