I found out today that the garden my mom paid for and created at the elementary school she works at (Frank E. Woodruff Elementary School in Bellflower, CA) was taken away from her and her students by the district because of it's placement (literally where it exists at the school), and for no better reason.
She is a first grade public school teacher, and has been now for over 20 years in the Bellflower School District. She's taught hundreds of kids how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. She lets her students take home what they've grown, and subsequently supports their healthy eating and lifts a small bit of financial burden off the kids' families that get to partake in eating the produce.
She has always taught in low-income areas, and most of her students are PoC and/or immigrant and/or first generation. Her school barely has surplus for special and/or creative programs as it is, and she built this garden on her own with her personal time and money, to bring joy and a really helpful skill to her students, and it's been taken away for a mundane reason. Her students are heartbroken, as many of them anticipate getting to garden in between lessons. It brings them joy.
She was told that she could find and rehabilitate a new plot at her school as a garden, but the change is incredibly expensive, and she's already spent so much of her own income on this endeavor for her kids, that she can't afford to recreate it without help.
I'm so heartbroken for her students, and so sad about the state of education. The fact that her kids can't have a garden because they don't live in a middle or income area is atrocious, and I can't sit idly by and let another really important piece of their education fall to the wayside. It's also hard to watch my mom, so beaten down. Though it wasn't her fault, she feels like she failed her students. She has a genuine love for all of her students, and is one of the most compassionate, dedicated teachers I've ever met. She wants them to succeed more than anything. She identifies with them as a person who struggled financially growing up, and to give this to them means so much to her.
I want to (try my hardest) to raise $1000 to donate to my mom's school SPECIFICALLY to recreate her garden in a different plot at the school. I am doing this secretly, because I'd like to surprise her and her kids with this as a Christmas present. I can't think of anything that would make her happier, and I can't think of a better way to make the world a little brighter for her students. I want them to have a garden.
If you could donate, even just $1, it would mean the world, not just to me and my mom, but so many children -- hundreds more, as the garden would continue to thrive for many years to come. If you can't afford to donate, I understand. If you can share this link to people you know might be able to donate, I would appreciate that so much.
The money will cover the cost of:
- The creation of a new plot (building materials, and construction supplies - this would be the heft of the cost)
- Soil, fertilizer
- Gardening utensils for 20+ kids at a time (shovels, watering tools, tarp, gauze, rakes, hoes, etc.)
- whole fruits and vegetables
- Gardening garments for the kids (hats, gloves, etc.)
Here are some photos of my mom in action:
^This is a pumpkin they grew for Halloween. They made pie out of the inside, and my mom roasted the seeds and shared them amongst the kids as snacks to bring home.
^Students collecting their harvest to make salads.
^This kid learned to love turnips!
^Corn and bell pepper!
^My mom buys caterpillars and lets the butterflies out into her garden <3
^All for the kids!
^She always makes sure they grow enough for everyone.
^Her and the students de-seeded sunflowers so the kids could bring them home as a snack.^Learning the best way to harvest.
Thank you for taking the time to read about my fundraiser. Even if you can't donate, I think it's an important occurance to be aware of. All kids deserve a full education.
Love and peace,
Akira Olivia Kumamoto
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