It’s spring!  Time to introduce your kids to the magical feeling that comes with pulling a carrot right up out of the soil, or picking a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed cherry tomato from the vine.  But your city home doesn’t have the space for a big garden. Luckily, LA is a hotbed of urban farming activity, much of it with an educational component or social justice twist. Here are our favorite school and community gardens that welcome everyone to drop by, get their hands dirty and taste the fruits of your labors.img_2588

WE Garden Venice
Westminster Elementary on Abbot Kinney in Venice boasts a comprehensive program in its WE Garden that integrates science, math and language curricula. The campus has two beautiful organic gardens and an outdoor classroom, and it continues to expand. The Master Gardeners, parents and teachers who run the program welcome volunteers on the second Saturday of every month. Come help work in the garden on that day, and you are encouraged to bring kids, who are usually provided with a fun activity to enjoy while parents roll up sleeves to help plant, build and tend to the gardens.

Westminster Elementary School
1010 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice
Online: lausd.net/Westminster_Ave_EL/Westminster_Community/Garden.html

img_2714Enrich LA School Gardens
Co-founded in 2011 by Tomas O’Grady with the motto “a garden in every school,” Enrich LA is the powerhouse organization that now oversees edible gardening programs at over 60 Los Angeles elementary, middle and high schools. With so much acreage to cover, you can bet there are plenty of volunteer opportunities to keep those gardens thriving. Visit EnrichLA.org and click on “Engage –> Volunteer Now” to peruse and sign up for an upcoming volunteer work day; chances are you’ll be able to find one in your own neighborhood.

Enrich LA
Online: enrichla.org

Micheltorena Elementary School
The Micheltorena Elementary school garden in Silverlake prides itself on being a partnership between the school and the greater community, and so they welcome anyone and everyone to visit every Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Bring the whole family over to enjoy a picnic (and sample fresh produce) from the garden, take an ecology class, help maintain the garden and get to know your neighbors.  Kids adore meeting the bunnies, chickens, butterflies (and even mice) who call the garden home while learning about sustainability and gardening.  And check the website for special garden classes and potlucks (which sometimes include making pizza in the pizza oven that kids at the school helped make!).

Micheltorena Community Garden
1511 Micheltorena St.
Silverlake
Online: micheltorena.org/community/garden

img_0863The Learning Garden at Venice High School
The Learning Garden at Venice High School is an agricultural Shangri-la hidden in plain sight. Overseen by the infinitely wise-in-the-ways-of-farming David King, the one-acre community garden hosts regular workshops, classes, seed exchanges and work days, many of which are open to all ages. Visit the garden’s website or Facebook page to see what activities and events are coming up.

Venice High School
13000 Venice Blvd.
West LA
Online: thelearninggarden.org

Garden School Foundation
The Garden School Foundation hosts monthly Community Garden Days, most often at their prototype school garden on the grounds of 24th Street Elementary School in the Mid-City neighborhood. Parents are encouraged to bring their kids, who are grouped together by age and led through projects by the interns. The foundation also hosts educational workshops geared toward children. This is an excellent organization who could always use help—most of their work is accomplished thanks to the volunteers who attend Community Garden Days.

24th Street Elementary School
2055 W 24th St.
Mid-City
Online: gardenschoolfoundation.org

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Daniel Webster Middle School Garden
Located in West LA, Daniel Webster Middle School coordinates volunteer efforts at its two-acre Garden for Environmental Education through LAWorks.org. Volunteers can help weed, plant and create new gardening plots. Kids over the age of five are welcome when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Daniel Webster Middle School
11330 Graham Pl.
West LA
Online: laworks.com/HOC__Volunteer_Opportunity_Details_Page?id=a0CA000000n91CuMAI

img_2756Palos Verdes School Gardens
The Palos Verdes School Gardens program oversees a robust gardening curriculum at public schools all over the peninsula. Each lovely school garden is maintained by staff and volunteers on a weekly basis, but the organization welcomes volunteers to assist with special projects during community work days. A great excuse to enjoy the gorgeous views and ocean breezes of PV!  Check the website to see when you and your little gardeners can visit.

Online: pvschoolgardens.org

Now you know where to get out there and get your hands in the dirt!  Where’s your favorite place to garden, and favorite thing to grow in LA?  We’d love to hear about your gardening dventures in the comment section!

—written and pictures by Erin Harris