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Picture A Native Garden Here

A mostly-barren strip of dirt along the front entrance of Lexington Primary Center.

This morning I met with Lexington Avenue Primary Center principal Paula Kurilich for a site tour of their campus, with the goal being how the community can help beautify it. I had told her we were looking for prospective Big Sunday projects for this May, and their School Site Council president Maira Montes, who also sits on the EHNC Youth & Education Committee, told me they need help with their garden. So Ms. Kurilich showed me a vacant dirt patch in front, save for two trees, that can use some greening (photo above).

She also showed me some bare dirt lots on their campus, including a little 10×10′ nook which would be perfect for a native garden (above). She also mentioned there’s a bare wall in the back of the campus that would be a great candidate for a mural. I asked if the LAUSD had any strict guidelines regarding mural placement on school campuses, she said there were none, at least none that she was aware of.

The school does have its own (food) garden, which consists of a few rows of raised wooden planters. She said that two teachers are currently speaheading vegetable-growing programs. She pointed out some lettuce being grown. At the end of the tour, my mind was running. That little native plant nook had all sorts of possibilities, and some relatively hardy plants (succulents, perhaps) should stand guard at the front. I also realized that if we were to do a Big Sunday project here, aside from having a much lower overhead than last year’s Cahuenga Library project, this would need less volunteers (probably 60 at most) and shouldn’t plant everything at once; I thought of having the kids plant at the beginning of the school year, and enjoy what they’ve planted when they’re finished in June. Ms. Kurilich also said it would be possible to perform off-track maintenance when school is not in session, one of the concerns the Youth & Education committee had. At the school I also ran into an old friend from the community, Arturo Velasquez, who supervises the kids during their recess and lunch hour. I seemed to have forgotten he worked here, and had been here for quite a while. As we talked, no less than four kids had asked for “Mr. Velasquez” to help them out or point out any minor playtime-related injury to him. Lexington seems to be a great candidate for this year’s Big Sunday project with lots of possibilities, we’ll see what happens. I never thought I’d be someone who starts native plant gardens in the community, but I guess that just comes along with the territory!

Another barren patch of dirt, this one by the cafeteria. Which plants would be best here?

Another barren patch, by the play yard. Places like these need hardy plants to withstand foot traffic.

Another batten area by the play yard. We might keep some areas unplanted for May, so that they can be planted in September when school begins.

The back wall of the school. Can you picture a mural here?

The other back wall. Believe it or not, a train line (Cahuenga Valley Railroad) once ran through here over 100 years ago!


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