Kelly Visits Garden That Empowers Students In A Food Desert

(police sirens wailing) – Watts, historically, has
been an underserved community. Over 90% of our students
and our families live below the poverty line. – It’s very dangerous. There’s a lot of gun violence. – We are the only public
middle school in Watts. Our students here have the
most grit and the most passion that I’ve ever experienced. – I want people to know that
there are good things in Watts. – The garden has been
an oasis on this campus. – Our nonprofit is called
Community Healing Gardens. It’s a big open urban garden space. – It’s beautiful. You try and really get into the community and see how you can make
your own community better, because if we all focused on
our individual communities, then everybody would be living better, everybody would be feeling better. – What the kids get out
of this is a whole new experience to life. It gives them responsibility. – Purpose. – A safe space to be who they are. – Growing up in the city,
it’s hard to find areas of, like, actual nature happening. They probably don’t see that all the time. – No, they don’t. I mean, look at the juxtaposition. If you look across the street,
you have a train track. (upbeat music) – Are these strawberries you said? Your strawberries?
– Oh, we’ve got great strawberry patches growing here. – [Kelly] Okay! – These are orange. – Orange? Oh, they’re little! Oh, I didn’t see, oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. – Most of the children
have never even seen strawberries growing or
kale or collard growing. – [Kelly] Yeah, this is like
called “The Food Desert” right? – [Nicole] Exactly. So, there’s a lot of fast food, a lot of liquor stores, but
the great thing is, is the community is starting to rise
up on many different levels. Not just because of us, but
because of programs like us. It gets the kids engaged
to go home and say, “Mom, I have some kale and I grew it.” – She kept saying, “It’s such
a small thing we’re doing,” and I’m like, “It’s not a
small thing you’re doing, “it’s a really incredibly
important thing you’re doing.” (uplifting music) – It really brings people
together instead of people getting away from each other. Nothing bad can happen to
us, ’cause knowing this community a lot of bad things happen. – How did you find this place? – Well, not most schools
have a garden class, so I chose this class,
and I love this class. It’s amazing. – What do you love about gardening now? – I just love planting into
the ground, into the soil. – What’s your favorite
thing to grow so far? – Sunflowers. – Oh my gosh, that’s my favorite flower! I have a tattoo. I’m, like, don’t get tattoos until you’re old enough. (laughing) but no, I love sunflowers. They’re so beautiful. – They’re very beautiful. – Yeah.
– They’re bright. – Yeah, they follow the sun. They’re so pretty. I don’t know why sunflowers
feel like hope to me. – Yeah. – When you take a child
out of the four walls, and you give them a space
that they can identify with and have nature in their
lives, wouldn’t you be happy? Wouldn’t you feel fulfilled? – It seems simple, but
this garden is really making a difference in their lives, and I really hope this
creates a domino effect with other schools and other communities, because we need it. – I wanted to give back what
I got, which was a chance to be a better version of
myself, and that’s what I want to pass on to the kids that
come here that want to work with us. (audience applauding) – Nicole Landers is the co-founder of Community Healing Gardens. She is here with Geraldine,
who is a student at Edwin-Markham Middle School. Welcome to the show, y’all. – Thank you.
– Yes! (audience applauding) – I’m so excited you’re here. So, we talked about food deserts. Help us understand the
issue of what that is. – So, a food desert is
an urban area that has a lack of healthy and fresh foods, and if you’re a mom of three, and you’re a single mom of three, and I know that you were raised in a single family household. – Yeah, with lots of kids. – With lots of kids, and
you have, not the means of transportation to get
outside of your community, how are you accessing
the healthy food options that we all need to thrive and grow? – Yeah. – With L.A. having the
sunshine that we have most of the time, why not grow your own? – [Kelly] Absolutely. – [Nicole] It’s really that easy. – Especially for, our family
would have loved that, because we were poor. Like, groceries are expensive. Like, eating out, we
had no money to do that. – Organic food is not cheap, correct? – Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, very true, very. – Unless you’re growing
it yourself. (laughs) – That’s right, that’s right. – Yeah, and that’s why I
think they should teach that in schools and stuff,
and what y’all are doing is so important, but,
Geraldine, you think the garden is worth more than just the food it provides though, right? – Yeah, there’s two sides of the story. One side is just plain land. There’s nothing to do there, and the other side of the land, it’s
the garden where you grow, you create life, and you meet new people you never thought you would meet. – That’s amazing. (audience applauding) It’s so simple, like what you say, but it’s so powerful. (strumming chords) Is this where y’all met? – [Boys] Yes. – To be honest, we wouldn’t
have became best friends if it wasn’t for this garden. Me and him live in different streets, and I wouldn’t be able
to go, because I have no supervision on me. – It helped me raise my grades. I used to have D’s and F’s
and now I have A’s and B’s. When you just plant, you
just zone out, and you think about, “Okay. I’m planting,
I’m creating life. “Then, that means I have
to make my life better,” and so I raised my grades up. – Oh my gosh. Are you kidding? How old are you? – I’m 14. – Okay, you have figured
all that out at 14? – Yeah.
– That’s amazing. (uplifting music) So, you think, like,
after y’all get out here, you start growing food that you can eat. Do you think that’s kind of
changed what you’re eating? – Yeah, I have tried new
things and added more things to my usual meals. – Also, my family has
changed a lot in them. Before, they would, like,
not eat kale, and one time, I brung it, and they just loved it. – I hated the strawberries
from the supermarkets, but when I actually ate some that we grew, it felt so rewarding, and
then when we actually ate it, it was like it was a lot
sweeter, and then I started, like, eating the fresh produce here. The tomatoes here, which
made me lose 26 pounds. – What?! – Before, I changed my eating habits, I would, like, snack on chips, snack on– – A bunch of processed food. – Yeah, but then we had cucumbers here, and I brought them home,
and when I was hungry, I would literally just grab a
cucumber and eat it like that. – That’s so great! Is it similar for you? – Yeah, I took some home. My sister cooks up whatever
I bring from the garden. – Wow, you’re the
gardener, she’s the cook. – (laughs) Yeah. – I like it.
– I love it. – This is living proof. They’re changing their diets, they’re changing what they’re grabbing, because they feel proud. They feel accomplished. They’ve grown something. (uplifting music) – We’re not just opening
the youth to the soil, and to the food and the healthy nutrition, but we’re opening their
eyes for new career paths, which gets them excited to stay in school. These high school students
needed to get jobs for the summer to help their families, and I saw the importance of teaching about financial literacy through food. – What did you do with
your first paycheck? – I bought my parents a dishrag, and then I also bought some new utensils, pots and pans for them. – Oh my gosh. That was so, that was kind. – Thank you. – That’s a beautiful thing. That says a lot about you, yeah. – Thank you. – Kelly coming here today, shedding a light on this
little engine that could, is so powerful. – Thank you so much for
letting me come to your garden. What you’re doing here is so cool. It’s so powerful. You’re not even aware of
it yet, but you will be. But thank you for letting
me take y’all’s time today. – Aw. – I have a bouquet that we
picked from our garden for you. – You are so sweet. Look at you! You’re such a gentleman. Giving a lady flowers. Have you done this before?
– No. (group laughing) – First time, first time for everything. Thank you guys, thank you so much. – Kelly, I have something
to give you, too. I want you to remember the garden. – Oh my god, I will always
remember the garden. Thank you so much, Rudy. – And on behalf of Markham, we want to give you this shirt. – Yes! Thank you guys so, this was sweet. Can we get a picture? Let’s get a picture, guys. – This way, here we go, everyone. – All things grow with love. (audience applauding) – Please welcome the
Community Healing Gardens student interns, this is Rudy and Iris. (audience applauding) Okay, so we heard how the
garden changed your lives. Did it change your future, you think? – It has greatly changed my future, because just by doing the little things, by putting away the tools,
planting a plant has greatly taught me responsibility
skills, and now that has strengthened my thoughts
on going to college. – That’s good. (audience applauding) That’s awesome, man, wow. So, oh my god, what do you think? – [Iris] Yeah, the garden
also changed my perspective on college, because the
garden has so much to do with life science, which is part of my major I’m going to study
at Cal State Long Beach. – Get it. (audience applauding) And you just keep telling
yourself, that’s what I did. I kept telling myself. Every time somebody would be like, “No, you’re not pretty enough,” “You aren’t the best singer,” “You can’t do this,” I can, I can, I can, I can, I did. (audience applauding) That’s the same thing. You can do anything you put your mind to. I am living proof of that,
because I come from nothing. So, why do you think the garden, Nicole, has such an
impact on their future? – Well, when you grow
from a seed to table, and you look at that life
cycle, it gives you ownership, so when Iris and Rudy came to the farm, and they’re not eating kale and
they don’t know what that is or arugula, and then
they’re growing it from start to finish. It changed their prospective on food and it changed their prospective on life. – Amen.
– Good good. (audience applauding) So, Bebe, I know you
have a special surprise. You have a special prize
for these guys, right? – You have a surprise? – [Bebe] Yes, on behalf of LiveNation, I’m giving all these kids
here with the Watts Garden a pair of tickets to see me
live with the Jonas Brothers on the Happiness Begins
tour on December 15th at the Forum in Los Angeles. (audience applauding) – And that’s December 15th! (audience applauding) Oh my gosh! You’re going to freak out.

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