By Brett Ashley Hawkins
The nonprofit Long Beach Community Action Partnership (LBCAP) hosted a ceremony last Friday to announce the latest details of their Green Jobs project, which seeks to provide a skills field site for returning veterans to grow fresh produce to donate to the Salvation Army’s food bank, as well as to create the Drought Tolerant Demonstration Garden Walk in support of local water-saving initiatives. The organization, located at 3012 Long Beach Blvd., assists low-income citizens and their families.
At the ceremony, attendees included Mike White of the Salvation Army and 7th District Long Beach Councilmember James Johnson. White and Johnson both spoke of the value of this urban garden walk to the community.
Long Beach City College’s Clean Energy Workforce Training Program has received a grant to offer a fall/winter course in Sustainable Landscape Design. The class consists of returning veterans recruited by the Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network Program (PGWINP) and will utilize the LBCAP Drought Tolerant Garden as their field project for the class certification.
The PGWINP also offered planting programs for at-risk teens ages 17 and 18 throughout 2010. The participants harvested an urban wheat field, built a chicken coop and barn, and assisted in the design, construction, and installation of a butterfly habitat garden. The youth were able to experience a commercial landscape project from start to finish with the help of landscape and irrigation specialists. They learned the benefits of teamwork, plant care, demolition, soil mitigation, and low-water irrigation installation. LBCAP’s garden was built by participants in the 2009 youth employment program, assisting students with similar issues as this year’s youth. The lot which the garden occupies was donated by the Salvation Army.
“The LBCAP teen program is an excellent example of teaching teens skills and personal development attributes that build self-confidence, abilities, and self-sufficiency,” said Maeve Milstead, LBCAP Youth Program director.
Another initiative launched by LBCAP is the “Grow a Lot, Give a Lot” healthy food initiative to honor the mission of the Salvation Army and to aid their weekly food assistance program. Several of the rows in the LBCAP’s garden will be dedicated to the restock of the Salvation Army’s pantry. The fruits and vegetables grown will be distributed to more than 1,700 people seeking food assistance each week. Another part of the program will be a collaboration between community gardeners, school gardens, farmers markets, and gleaning organizations for various local food banks.
The garden also supports the Long Beach Water Department and the City’s Office of Sustainability’s water-saving initiatives by making the walk drought tolerant. Four designers will study diverse examples of low-water front-yard landscapes. Homeowners and professionals will then be able to learn of smart watering devices and low-water irrigation techniques from demonstrations in classes and workshops.
A partnership between LBCAP and the Salvation Army uses the latter’s property to mitigate blight, fight hunger, save our natural resources, and build bridges in the community. The LBCAP Landscape Project is located on a one-acre lot in the Memorial Heights neighborhood north of Spring Street at 3031 Elm Avenue.