Huffington Press Article on Styrofoam Ban

More press on the styrofoam ban!!

Farm King Press Conference

The press conference held at Farm King created quite a buzz, as LAUSD bans styrofoam trays thanks to Thomas Starr King students.

Check out the articles:

Eyewitness News.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — School Gardens are sprouting up at some Los Angeles-area public schools.

The nonprofit group Enrich LA is helping build vibrant “learning gardens,” such as the one at Thomas Starr Middle School in Los Feliz.

“Children today are not doing so well eating-wise, and we think one of the reasons why is they don’t know where food is coming from,” said Thomas O’Grady, director of Enrich LA.

Students create, maintain and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

“My favorite thing to eat at this garden is radishes,” said Colby Flores, a 7th grader from Thomas Starr King Middle School. “We grow tomatoes. We grow lettuce and a lot of herbs.”   GO TO ABC 7 


Farm King puts its two cents in

Posted on July 21, 2011 by 826lastaff

Posted by Danny Hom, Programs & Social Media Manager

Throughout the school year at Thomas Starr King Middle School, Ann Holtzinger’s 6th grade students have been working in Farm King, the school’s garden, as part of a science unit. After dissecting an albatross stomach and finding bits of plastic and bottle caps, the students embarked on a campaign to make the Los Angeles Unified School District more environmentally friendly. Throughout the year, they publicize their garden efforts at local farmers’ markets, created a display of the Styrofoam trays their school uses in one lunch period, and created PSA videos about their campaign with King Middle School Technology Coach Valorie Milio.

With the help of 826LA volunteers, Ms. Holtzinger’s students wrote scripts and interview questions, created a storyboard, filmed the videos, and edited them over the month of May. On their last day, Ms. Holtzinger’s students were buzzing with excitement over their progress and were eager to show off their nearly-finished videos to 826 volunteers who had worked with them throughout the entire project. With a bill banning Styrofoam containers in California currently working its way through the state congress, it looks like the students at Starr King could have another reason to celebrate their project soon.

– Intern Danica Benitez

Farm King on CBS news! – Click on the photo below to see the video!

Middle School Students Tell LAUSD: No More Styrofoam!

GOOD Magazine – by

  • April 4, 2011 • 2:30 pm PDT

It wasn’t until they dissected an albatross stomach that Ann Holtzinger’s sixth-grade students at Thomas Starr King Middle School truly understood what was happening with the trash they were throwing away every day at lunch. “We found bottle caps,” a student named Sook says.  “We learned not to litter plastic because fish might eat it. Once we eat it, we get the chemicals in our bodies.” That is just one of the reasons the sixth grader is a vegetarian, she informs me.

The lesson in ocean-bound plastic was a transformative moment for most of the class at the Los Angeles school. “Everyone’s concerned about how it’s affecting animals like seagulls and sea animals,” Marisol tells me. “We want to show how you can make a difference by volunteering or doing service.” In their case, making a difference meant collecting the used Styrofoam trays from their cafeteria and stringing them up into 30-foot art installation in the center of campus that they hoped would get their school’s—and their district’s—attention.

The project is part of the curriculum at Farm King, the school’s garden, where Holtzinger’s students go every Tuesday for duties like harvesting cavolo nero kale and calculating the number of worms in a square foot of soil. Volunteer and garden manager Brian Miller, who runs a photography company when he’s not elbow deep in compost, came up with the concept because he wanted to give ecology studies some real-world relevancy. “These students will be putting lessons into direct action,” he says.

After carrying their trash around for a week, the students visited the Burbank Recycling Center, where they uncovered a horrific truth about one of the most prevalent materials in their school: Styrofoam. “They don’t even recycle it!” a group of students answer in unison when I ask what’s so bad about it. “They don’t collect it because it turns into little bits,” says Miya.

The students began camping out at the recycle bins after lunch to intercept the Styrofoam trays, which they cleaned, brought to the garden, and began stringing onto a rope, like a giant white necklace. The garden itself is positioned in the center of the school, so their highly-visible, large-scale craft project has been noticed by all students (and teachers) as they change classes. But to reinforce their message, the children spent weeks designing and painting signs to encourage their fellow 2,000 students to monitor their own waste. “Plastic is not fantastic!” one of the signs scolds.

Over the weeks, the Styrofoam creature grew, soon snaking through the beds of broccoli and sweet peas that kids eat eagerly right off the vines. And last Tuesday (aided by adults), the students looped a rope over one of the tallest branches of the giant acacia tree that shades part of the garden and hoisted it 30 feet into the air. As it hung between the leaves like an awkward wind chime, the students gawked at their creation.

The final count for the tower is a jaw-dropping 1,260 trays, which, Miller reminds the students, is less than the 1,400 trays that are thrown away at the school each day. For perspective, LAUSD operates about 730 schools.

But the triumphant tower wasn’t all that Miller had planned for the students. As they stood in a circle, snapping photos of their styro-creation with their own cell phones, he presented them with another gift: brightly colored, reusable plastic trays. “How many of you would use this instead of a Styrofoam tray?” he asked. Their eyes lit up and their hands shot into the air. “Yeah!” they cheered. “Me!” Believe it: sixth graders, jumping up and down, shrieking with enthusiasm over a reusable lunch tray. You would have thought it was autographed by Justin Bieber.

It’s not a perfect tray, Miller acknowledged, in that it’s still plastic. But it would make this class leaders within the school, allowing them to tell the story to their fellow students about why they don’t use Styrofoam trays. “It’s their own choice,” he said. “They have the experience and knowledge now, and we empowered them to make a change.”

Volunteer for an upcoming project at Farm King

Read the Farm King school garden blog

Encourage your LAUSD board member to ditch styrofoam

by Elson Trinidad

The Los Angeles Unified School District on Friday has approved Thomas Starr King Middle School to start an environmental studies magnet program in the Fall 2011 semester. The program will focus on sustainability and environmental education, also designed to prepare students for careers in the Green Economy workforce.

As not just a community member, but a 1986 alumnus of Thomas Starr King Junior High School, Isubmitted a letter in late September to the Board of Education as part of a campaign spearheaded by the nonprofit group Friends Of King, which has been very active in recent years implementing physicaland programmatic improvements to the school, through after-school programs, the building of a garden on the school grounds and their 2009 Big Sunday project, which turned their dilapidated ampitheater area in the campus into a beautiful, green open space. I was also one of the scores of volunteers who pitched in their time to build that in the span of an afternoon.

The real hero is Friends of King president Tomas O’Grady, who is also a board member of the Greater Griffith Park Neighborhood Council and was one of the planting coordinators at our “We Love Cahuenga Library” Big Sunday event this past May. O’Grady pushed for community support in the letter-writing campaign and successfully got the LAUSD to approve the Green Magnet program at no cost to the District. He said that the nonprofit will guarantee $30,000 to implement the new magnet program, which would help stem the mass exodus of students from traditional public schools into charter and private schools.  Also a parent of a King student, O’Grady reported that test scores went up from 638 to 737 this year.

Although I spent the most socially awkward years of my life at King, I did have some great memories there, and I’m still proud to be an alum. Much kudos to O’Grady and the Friends of King group, and best

what’s inside
Farm Feliz: Volunteers Pick Up the Funding
Serving the Greater Los Feliz, Silver Lake & Hollywood Hills Area
Farm King volunteer Tomas O’Grady and King Middle School Students.
On Sunday, May 3, 2009, dozens of Big Sunday volunteers descended on Thomas Starr KingMiddle School with shovels and hoes in hand. In a single day, they installed the plant beds,seasonal vegetables, and fencing that served as the base for the community garden King
Middle School students have used all this school year.
By all accounts, Farm King has been a success. On Tuesdays, a small group of volunteersteachers a 7th Grade nutrition class about organic farming, sustainable cooking, and
composting, and on Thursdays, they teach a garden club, open to any students who want toparticipate, how to maintain the garden.
The cost of maintaining the garden, however, has also fallen to these volunteers, raisingquestions about how to make volunteer-run community programs like the garden economicallyas well as environmentally sustainable.
The initial funding to install the garden—$17,000 in total—was provided by the Greater Griffith
mhtml:file://C:\Documents and Settings\tomas.TOMASHPLAPTOP\Local Settings\Tem…
Farm Feliz: Volunteers Pick Up the Funding Slack – Los Feliz Ledger
Park Neighborhood Council. But since then, neither King Middle School nor any neighborhoodcouncil has had any money to offer the garden. Instead, the four volunteers largely responsible
for the garden—Meg Taylor, Kiki Crawford, Thomas O’Grady, and Brian Miller—said they haveprobably each donated thousands of dollars worth of materials—not to mention time—to help
keep the program going.
“Right now, it’s entirely out of our own pockets, keeping up the garden,” Crawford, one of thevolunteers. “We were hoping to tap into school accounts, but everything has changed withLAUSD (Los Angeles Unified School Distrcit) over the last year. I spend fifty dollars here, fiftythere. You just can’t show up empty handed.”
Taylor, who owns Large Marge Sustainables, teaches the sustainable cooking class. She saidevery week she brings paper plates and cups, cookware, and ingredients form her car out tothe garden. She also provided all the ingredients the Top Chef event, when six chefs from localrestaurants came to teach cooking at the garden.
Taylor said she hopes to use the Martin Luther King School in Berekeley, CA, where chef AliceWaters set up a community garden, as a model for Farm King.
“At MLK School, they actually sell produce from the garden back to restaurants, so kids canlearn about the concept of things like taking out a loan, and repaying a loan using money from
the garden,” Taylor said. “We could potentially sell produce at the farmer’s market, or use it inthe cafeteria. We want to introduce that into Farm King, and create a model that can be
replicated at other schools around Los Angeles.”
The volunteers are also exploring other potential sources of funding for Farm King. Recently,they registered as a non-profit called “Friends of King Middle School.” In March, the group
secured a pledge of $500 in funding from the Silverlake Neighborhood Council, and at the firstFriends of King meeting, two parents stood up and donated $20, each.
O’Grady said it will probably cost about $10,000 to maintain the garden over the next year, and
more still if they were going to be able to expand the program. But despite the financialobstacles the garden is facing, he said he doesn’t worry that Farm King won’t be able tocontinue.
“With everything you start, you have to have a seed at the beginning, to help get things off theground,” O’Grady said. “We could only go to the neighborhood council and ask for fundingbecause we showed what we’ve already accomplished to this point. The image of King Schoolin the past, and still today, is of an urban school filled with urban kids. These kids have neverworked with their hands, in the dirty. When people see the garden, they see that it’s not just anurban jungle after all. It’s opening doors for kids, and there are plenty of people with a couple ofdollars in their pocket who will help support that.”
This entry was posted on Thursday, April 1st, 2010 at 6:00 am and is filed under Community News, Lead Cover Story.You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.


2 responses

11 04 2011

I think that when we brought up those trays our hard work payed off. The next day people probably had questions. We could tell them why we have that there.

12 04 2011

After we put up that tower, the next day people were wondering, “why is that tall tower there?” when you are up close to the tower, it is not that tall, but if you stand far away from it, the tower is VERY VERY VERY tall! 😀

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