Califonia Bountiful

Enjoying the earth, Los Angeles-style

A growing number of young students are finding creative ways to get in touch with agriculture.

Los Angeles County is one of the most urban in America, but it's also where a growing number of young students find creative ways to get in touch with the earth.

At Los Cerritos Elementary school in Long Beach, teacher Dianne Swanson has a garden that offers an impressive number of learning opportunities.

"Basically you can tie anything you want to learn to the garden," she said. "Science is obvious, math because of measurements, reading because they can read stories about gardening. They can write about it, they can do social studies with the crops of the Native Americans or what the settlers grew, and then you can tie it to character education because they are cooperating and learning together. The opportunities just go on and on."

Meanwhile, Fremont Elementary school fifth-grader Daniel Kaplan not only helps out in his school garden, he also is an award-winning writer.

His essay "The Adventures of Compost Man" won a statewide contest and was even animated into a cartoon.

Daniel said he hopes Compost Man will help open people's eyes to the value of the countryside.

"All of the vegetables and fruits that we eat are coming from the country," he said. "So if people didn't care about the country--if they say, 'Ah, who needs it?'--then they would never be able to have that again. If there was no country, there would be no fruits or vegetables, so everybody should care about it."

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