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Planting the seeds for social enterprise at San Gabriel High

San Gabriel High School students, teachers, and community members gathered around a plot of dirt on campus on Oct. 16. On hands and knees, the group used their green thumbs to fill in the empty 8-by-10 plot with flowers, fruits, and produce, including tomato, parsley, garlic, onion, and pineapple sage. 

The garden is part of HerbaFlor, a student enterprise from local nonprofit Kingdom Causes and students and teachers from the SGHS Business and Technology Academy. Students will grow and sell fresh produce and dry herbs to local businesses and at farmers markets, raising money for HerbaFlor while also learning how to run and market a business.

Chang's "helper" and son Noah watches as the plot of dirt is filled on Oct. 16.

Kingdom Causes staff member Jesse Chang — who provided the initial soil, soil delivery, and supplies for the Oct. 16 project — also hopes the garden will better engage the students, teachers, and community with school.

“I think gardens create community, and that’s something that I really want to see more of  — community engagement around gardens,” Chang said. “Hopefully the garden also connects with curriculum and classes outside of the academy. We’d obviously love to have that kind of bridge and partnership."

Chang, an avid gardener, met SGHS Principal Jim Schofield a year ago and discovered they were both interested in creating a garden on campus. Along with several teachers and 14 business academy students, Chang outlined in September a plan for the gardens, which will be planted in stages due to funding and time constraints. The group will fill in four more raised beds and a Mediterranean herb garden on Nov. 2.

Initial plotting for the Mediterranean herb garden.

Aside from raising money and learning about business, SGHS senior Cindy Suen joined HerbaFlor to improve her gardening skills. Suen grew peppermint and thyme in pots with Chang this summer but wasn't able to use the herbs. “They all died,” Suen joked. “I came to learn how to take care of my plants because I don’t want them to die.”

Funded by community support, HerbaFlor is hoping to raise $6,000 by Oct. 31 to pay for soil, wood, irrigation, marketing, and farmers market booths. Local organizations such as Athens Services and rotary clubs have donated compost and expressed interest in contributing.

“The goal for this is to be a garden that can sustain itself if we find a core group of people," Chang said. "There are definitely a lot of opportunities, but we need to actually get something in the ground before we can start selling."

Click here to donate to HerbaFlor. To volunteer on Nov. 2 or become involved in future garden installations at SGHS, email Jesse Chang at [email protected]

Editor's Note: Jesse Chang is an Alhambra Source community contributor. 

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that HerbaFlor planted pineapple. We apologize for the error.

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