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LA Plaza, PepsiCo Foundation Partnership

Tue, 2015-04-07
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LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes, PepsiCo Foundation Partnership Provides Hands-on Gardening & Culinary Experience for Local Students


Downtown Edible Teaching Garden Serves 7,500 Participants Annually


Los Angeles, CA, March 11, 2015 – With Los Angeles City Hall as a backdrop, more than 7,000 local grade school students a year are learning the basics of gardening and culinary principles that can lead to a healthy lifestyle at the LA Plaza-PepsiCo Foundation Teaching garden, the only edible garden of its kind in downtown Los Angeles.


Based on the garden’s overwhelming success, PepsiCo Foundation recently committed to additional funding that will keep the garden flourishing through the remainder of the year. The Foundation established the garden at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes in 2011 as a hands-on learning center designed to help combat childhood obesity.


Since its opening, more than 18,000 participants have participated in workshops conducted by LA Plaza, a non-profit museum and cultural center located in the downtown historic core. The PepsiCo Foundation covers instructional costs, materials and provides busing for schools from throughout Los Angeles Unified School District.


“Downtown is probably the last place you’d expect to find a garden that produces a bountiful harvest of fruits, vegetables, flowers and spices,” said John Echeveste, LA Plaza CEO. “The garden has become a serene oasis in downtown where both children and visitors can experience the best that nature has to offer.”


The workshops consist of a gardening session that instructs students on the nutritional benefits of indigenous fruits and vegetables. All students get to make and take home a seed ball of mud that they can plant in their own gardens.


After a quick wash up, the class moves to a culinary session where they make their own healthful snacks like a sweet corn and black bean salad or taquito wrap. The sessions are designed to provide students with healthful alternatives to common menu items that are served at home.


The workshops are held throughout the school year and are conducted by LA Plaza’s staff of licensed educators.


“Our overall is to provide an environment where students can make a connection between plants and nutrition,” said Armando Rodriguez, culinary arts teacher. “We focus on foods of the Americas and strive to improve students’ awareness of nutrition and activity. We provide the tools for students to recognize the past, be mindful of the present and connect the two for a better future.”