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Teens Leading Change: Teen Green Thumbs

Guest Blogger,
small garden planter with a smiley face drawn on
The teens from the Pio Pico and Memorial Branch libraries have joined forces to advocate for a community garden space in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles

There’s hardly any greenery in Koreatown. The parks in Koreatown are sparse and run down. There aren’t many places where the community can really come together and bond, which is why a community garden is a great way to meet new people and learn how rewarding it is to grow your own food. During the pandemic, a lot of people have grown wary of going to the supermarket as often as before. Our original idea was for a community garden, but seeing how it wasn’t safe to get together, at-home gardening became our new solution.

We hope to use our TLC Project to help advocate for a community garden in Koreatown. Pio Pico is where everyone in Koreatown gathered before covid. Might as well make our community more united through gardening! Community gardens often lead to improved relationships among a community, which I think is necessary in Koreatown. Even with a language barrier, you don’t need to use words to show off your potatoes.

For our project, we’re growing romaine lettuce and spinach. I’m growing spinach as it’s my favorite vegetable! We’re documenting the process by taking photos every week. Although I can’t physically garden with the other teen volunteers and librarians, I can at least share pictures of my spinach with others. It’s exciting to see everyone’s plants slowly growing - gardening is an adventure within your home, and it’s an adventure that we’re all on together.

Despite being a newbie gardener, I’ve noticed positive effects gardening has had on my life. I’ve learned to become a more patient person. It took three tries and a little more than a month for my spinach seeds to start germinating. Once I noticed the first sprout, I took a picture and called my mom (my family is on this adventure with me). It brought me so much joy that my hard work paid off!

Also, being responsible for taking care of my spinach motivated me to get out of my bed and go outside. Ever since the stay-at-home order was enacted, my mental health took a toll. I couldn’t see my friends, I was worried about my family’s unstable financial situation, and I zoned out during my online classes. Being inside for months without seeing any direct sunlight made me feel sluggish. However, having a reason to go outside and having the responsibility to take care of something made my life more enjoyable. I go to the parking lot, water my spinach, and hum a tune (which sounds weird, but my spinach hasn’t died yet so it’s working). Seeing sunlight and getting some fresh air has led to me being more productive with my school work and chores. After my daily gardening session, both my plants and I feel refreshed. I’m really happy that I started to garden, and I hope others feel the same with a community garden in the neighborhood.

—Written by Michelle Lee, Teens Leading Change Cycle 5.

teen volunteer Michelle Lee

Michelle Lee is currently a senior at University High School Charter and volunteers at Pio Pico Library. She plans to study computer science in college. She loves pho and cats.

The Teens Leading Change initiative has funded and launched over 30 projects across 40 branches, including 5 projects across 7 branches that are happening now! These projects are related to Library Advocacy/Information Literacy, Cultural / Community Conversations & Archives, Know Your Rights, Immigration & Citizenship, Net Neutrality / Privacy, and Voting Rights & Voter Registration and more.