L. A. River has a farm where students can go and touch the animals. There are flowers and vegetables as well. Mr. Flores, a school teacher and the one in charge of the farm, teaches the students why the farm is helpful to our environment.
We are one of the many schools who have a farm in LAUSD. This is a fantastic idea in getting the students into the environment and involving the animals into their learning and how each animal’s job helps the farm. Many students have been involved in the farm already because they have a class with Mr. Flores. As student Emily Gonzales says “It’s a wonderful experience to work in the farm and learning about it at the same time. I have Mr. Flores for plants and soils. We are currently going to plant potatoes and that is pretty cool.”
I asked her what Mr. Flores was teaching them when they go to the farm and in her class. She responded “He is trying to conserve water and we are learning about drip irrigation.” She also says she likes the class in general because it’s not any normal class that students take; they actually go out and take care of the farm and feed the animals.
There is also another class as well that is going to build more fences because they are going to bring more animals into the farm. I believe this is a fantastic idea because every animal counts and if bringing more will help our farm grow better and become more interesting. It’s a great opportunity for us students.
I interviewed Mr. Flores and asked him various questions on why he decided to create a farm in L.A River School.
“The school farm began when Ms. Puich [the school principal] told me that there was going to be a full-time position as a teacher here in L.A River. She wanted to start an agriculture program since I had a farm of my own.”
I also asked Mr. Flores if he loved animals.
“Yes, I love animals and I love the relationship we have with animals. I believe in the old fashioned way of farming were the animals get to live the life that they should. Not by the way it’s now in the industrialized modern way were they are kept in cramped spaces.”
How is it helping the environment here?
“It’s helping the environment because the animals here are starting to take the food waste that students throw away that normally would end up in the landfill and the animals like the chickens and the pigs eat it. We take what’s a waste product that would go into the landfill and we make it into something that becomes productive. It becomes a source of egg or a source of milk.”
Are you planning to bring more animals?
“We are. We currently have two pigs and a number of chickens. A lot of chicks and baby ducklings and baby quails. I’m planning to bring more pigs and sheep, and rabbits as you can see we are definitely trying to expand the farm.”
What are you trying to teach the students?
“I primarily want to teach them to farm, how to understand were food comes from, what are agricultural system is like but, how to do it in a way that actually helps the environment rather than a negative way. Agriculture actually impacts the environment in a negative way, they are one of the bigger polluters but, if it’s done in a way, where you’re in a closed group system and recycling, feeding the animals your waste product, taking there waste product and compost putting that into the plants there is no waste. Everything kind of circulates.”
You are also teaching the students about conserving water? How does that work?
“Right yes, we teach about conserving water we use drip irrigation. We are using a watering system that delivers a lot of less water to the plants at a lot slower pace.”
What types of vegetables are you growing or going to grow?
“Well we are starting to get into our cool season vegetables right now, so we are planning to grow your cabbages, broccoli, onions, garlic, peas, beets, Swiss chard, and kale that kind of stuff.”
As you can see, showing the students these amazing things that happen in school makes them want to get more in their work. It also makes students want to get more into their community and environment. Personally I love the farm since the first day I saw it surrounded by the plants and the vegetables and it made me feel good to see the chickens and the pig there as well. Nature is the beauty of this planet and our duty is to take care of it and do something to learn from it.