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Garden Project Allows Crawford Students To Grow

Video unavailable. Read transcript below.

Video published June 13, 2011 | Download MP4 | View transcript

Above: Students from San Diego's Crawford High School are cultivating healthier food choices and learning about different cultures.

San Diego's Crawford High School in City Heights is among the most culturally diverse schools in the nation. An innovative school garden program at the school gives students a chance to discuss their culture through food.

Kaley Hearnsberger is Crawford’s Youth Food Justice Coordinator. She runs the internship program, which pays students to work in the garden.

“While they’re working, they’re learning about gardening, about what it means to grow your own food, what it means to access land, to start a community garden and how eat healthy,” Hearnsberger said.

Perla Hernandez is a senior at Crawford who works in the garden and is learning how to compost.

Hernandez describes composting this way: “recycled materials to create healthier soils for healthier plants.”

Ntiriniga Etienne, from East Africa, was born in Burundi but grew up in a refugee camp in Tanzania.

Etienne first learned about composting from his mother in the camp. He said his mother grew vegetables to supplement their camp rations.

Nearly 1,300 students eat lunch daily in Crawford’s cafeteria.

“At the end of the day we take everything that’s left over and put it into the compost can,” said food-service worker Jan Wendt.

That’s when the garden interns take over.

“Every week we go over to the cafeteria where the cafeteria girls leave us compost in there. So we bring it back here to the garden and we work on it,” said Hernandez.

Intern Valerie Christinat, explained the dynamics of compost. “This top layer is mostly made of greens, which is fruits and vegetables. We also add browns and this is mostly carbon. And we need a nice even layer so that it can break down easier.”

The students are really excited to take home what they’ve learned in the garden, said Hershberger.

“A lot of students have been able to take plants home to grow on their own. It’s really cool to see and kind of come full circle.”

KPBS is a partner in a new project called "Speak City Heights." For more stories like this, sharing the voices of people in one of San Diego's most diverse neighborhoods, visit

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