I have to admit.. I do like this.  :)    A fellow is working with children to keep them out of the gang life.  He’s using gardens to help.


WOODLAKE — When Manuel Jimenez first set eyes on the land below a levee, thick with brush and weeds, the one-time field worker envisioned a place where youngsters could escape the temptations of gang life and learn about the San Joaquin Valley’s most vital industry.

But, like many places in California’s farming belt, this Tulare County town of 7,280 flanked by citrus groves had few resources. Best known for its annual rodeo, Woodlake has been devastated by gangs.

….Over the past seven years, Jimenez found a way to teach hundreds of young volunteers farming techniques, work habits and communication skills to prepare them for jobs or college. …. Youth are encouraged to taste and smell everything in the garden.    ….

With creativity and help from the community, they turned 14 desolate acres into lush gardens of vines, vegetables and fruit trees. The local police chief credits the program, Woodlake Pride, with helping fight local gang crime…..For years, Jimenez had gathered children and planted flowers and vegetables in vacant lots. When the city purchased a railroad right-of-way on the northern flank of Bravo Lake, he offered to convert it into permanent gardens. The city provided land, water and insurance.A local farmer donated money for irrigation and snacks. Area companies donated tubing, fertilizer and plants. …… Jimenez brought doughnuts and hot chocolate. He joked and had long conversations with the children. He took them to dinner, the zoo and hiking.Each plant Jimenez chose told a story; it was unique in smell, flavor, appearance or history…..The gardens became a community gathering space. The fruit is not picked and visitors can sample ripe produce right off the branch…..Jimenez and 10-year-old Roman Ramirez huddled next to tomato plants.”Mijo, you need to cut here,” Jimenez said, demonstrating the use of pruning shears and referring to the boy as his son. Then he let Roman clip the plants…..The program has helped steer many youngsters away from that path, the chief said. Children wearing gang colors are sent home to change. The Jimenezes counsel them against the gang lifestyle and encourage them to pursue higher education…..”You can’t wait for somebody else, like the government, to do things for you,” Jimenez said. “You need to get up and fix the community yourself.”
Read more here: http://www.modbee.com/2011/12/18/1992926/kids-pick-gardens-over-gangs.html?story_link=email_msg#storylink=cpy