This amazing program, founded and run by Gerardo Gallegos, teaches kids how to grow their own healthy food. That, and responsibility and community values. They also sell leftover produce from time to time that they’ve grown themselves.
572 N Ventura Ave Ventura Ca 93001
Please consider joining us from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, as we fundraise for our Kids Garden Brigade program. We are raffling a 40″inch smart TV and having a donation based Taco Sale.
$5 Taco plateSponsored by Lionel Castillo of Keller Williams Realty
Here’s the story I wrote about it awhile back.
By Anne Kallas
When Gerardo Gallegos needs to feed his family–wife Angela and their five children—he goes no farther than his front yard on Simpson Street, where he is always growing something healthy.
Gallegos shares that love of growing healthy food with his neighbors in west Ventura through his Kids Garden Brigade and Restore Ventura, two nonprofits that he has set up to establish community gardens in the Ventura Avenue neighborhood.
“The goal of Restore Ventura, which I set up four years ago, is to educate, mentor and equip families in need with the best way to install a community garden,” he said.
More recently, he opened the Kids Garden Brigade community garden on Ventura Avenue next to the Ventura Avenue Adult Center, where children from the area come regularly to transform what was an empty, blighted property into a thriving garden with a bay hedge, fruit trees, rows of vegetables, rabbits and chickens.
“It’s still under construction, although it’s a lot better than where we were before,” Gallegos said, pointing to the pathways and shed made by more than 50 volunteers in September.
He said his goal in 2016 is to keep working on the garden, eventually adding an aquaponics/hydroponic system that will grow fish, was well as provide water and nutrients for plants in the garden.
“This garden is the size of a typical Avenue backyard. We want people to be able to come here to be educated,” Gallegos said.
The owner of his own landscaping company, Gallegos Foodscapes, his interest in providing fresh, organic food grew from his oldest daughter.
“She’s autistic and she needs better food to help her meet her physical needs,” Gallegos said.
His children are Micaela, 11, Malachi, 9, Ezriella, Hezekiah, 5, and Jubilee, 1. He said none of his children are picky eaters. “The kids will eat anything on their plate because they grew it,” Gallegos said.
He noted that while there are many people living in the Ventura Avenue area who work in agriculture, it seems to be a leap to turn to their own yards so they can grow their own crops.
“I think a lot of people have worked in agriculture for years, but they haven’t applied it to their own lives. They are embracing (the community gardens) benefits to the community,” Gallegos said of his Kids Garden Brigade, which meets at least once a week after school.
He’s also led efforts to plant other community gardens in the area, including the Westpark Community Center, the Westside Village public housing community garden and a small garden at the Bell Arts Center.
“After doing a few community gardens for adults I realized how many kids really liked working and volunteering. This is great for kids who aren’t into soccer or football. We created this just for them,” Gallegos said.
Rafael Robles of West Ventura brought his children to the Kids Garden Brigade plot on Ventura Avenue. He said Gallegos’ work benefits the community.
“He has a passion and teaches people how to farm and grow food. He and other people are turning the neighborhood into someplace great to live,” Robles said.
Gallegos, 33, said he moved to Ventura at age 5 with his family from Guanajuato, Mexico. He went to elementary school at Will Rogers and graduated from Ventura High School. “I was the first person in my family to graduate from high school. My children will be the first to graduate from college,” Gallegos said.
A man of deep faith, Gallegos contributes time to Mission Church.
“My faith is my motivation. We are blessed to give more than we receive,” he said. “I grew up in this community and there aren’t a lot of outlets for young people. Without positive outlets, kids will turn to negative outlets. I was a big handball player and that’s what provided an outlet for me,” Gallegos said.
For information about the Kids Garden Brigade, call 794-7277.