The LA Spanish School at Euclid Park (and Garden)

Diana Albarracin teaches Spanish as a second language for all ages. She has provided a variety of programs through the City of Santa Monica Community Recreation Division such as enrichment classes and camps. Santa Monica Community Gardens has opened up Euclid Park Gardens to the Spanish Immersion youth program, giving the children access to two of the gardening beds, giving them the opportunity to explore the art of gardening. This venture has been very successful.

All children in the Spanish School program have access to the gardens ranging in ages from 1 to 12. On any typical day, about 8 to 12 students are in the garden.

I asked Diana about the children’s experiences via email. Here is what she said.

How frequently are the children at the garden?

There are two groups of children that visit the garden every day. Morning classes, Spanish Steps classes, and afternoon Spanish Enrichment classes. They water the garden just one time; depending on the seeds we are planting. Other groups just observe and clean up the dead leaves, or the minimal waste we can find in the garden. Groups also take turns to work in the compost area that The Community Garden Department is creating at Euclid Park.

What are some of the children’s favorite fruits and vegetables to grow and harvest/eat in the garden?

We like to plant seasonal seeds. Our children put all their energy into the project when they are planting their seeds. They honor them by drawing them; making comparisons between different seeds and are following their growing process using the calendar. We have had two harvests so far. The first ones were huge squashes that we were cooking and eating during an entire week. Furthermore, we shared some with parents as well as with some of our neighbors. The second harvest blessed us with beautiful sunflowers and carrots. The kids honored them by making adorable art and craft pieces to decorate our classroom. Now we are ready to start our third planting…Every season is different. We learn more, and we are more curious to keep improving and planting more and more seeds. The gardening project sincerely has become yet another extremely empowering learning tool for our children who attend our program.

What are some key learning points for the children?

Visiting the garden every day brings a lot of benefits to our children. Not only in the Spanish language acquisition but as well as in gathering gardening concepts followed by all the math and scientific concepts that go along with it. The youngsters get motivated to stop by the garden and observe all the seed’s growing process. They are so happy when new seeds start to come out. Some children do not understand at the very beginning, or they simply do not grasp the concept. Gardening, however, is a matter of time and patience, thus the children, after having had experienced two different harvests, started to develop a sense of belonging and responsibility for the garden; for watering, and for patiently expecting our next harvest. The kids become more aware of the sunlight, the entire weather system and its changes, and how those changes influence the plant’s growing process.

Thank you, Diana, for the great work you are doing. It is wonderful to see children get their hands dirty in a garden and experience first-hand where their food really comes from.