2022 Grants Challenge

The Children's Forest

The Children's Forest is a functioning garden forest filled with organic flowering and fruiting trees, plants, herbs, vegetables, flowers, pollinators & children. ECF students year round & all community children welcome on Saturdays with more to come. This is for the children of Venice and beyond who live near busy streets and lack sufficient oxygenated air and green space to connect, explore laugh, play and relax. It will deepen their connection to nature, allow them to grow their own & enjoy freshly grown produce, and mitigate climate change.


What is the primary issue area that your application will impact?

Green Space, Park Access, and Trees

In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

West LA

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

What is your understanding of the issue that you are seeking to address?

Children are being deprived of nature: lacking access, green space to play in, clean air, fresh, organic food, and then wisdom that comes from being connected and rooted in nature. The very nature of children is largely unwelcome in public spaces, greenery is disappearing, pavement is increasing the level of heat & pollution, while children are prevented from establishing their own essence. Global temperatures are rising, as are the costs of clean food & energy. Childhood obesity is rising, affordable access to organic food & gardening opportunities are dwindling, while disassociation with peers, video games & violence is increasing. Children are missing a local meeting place where it is beautiful, full of trees to freshen the air and the best of nature. LA is busy with cars, heat and poor air. The Children’s Forest will give all children a chance to grow naturally. ECF is an Art, Language & Nature school, Certified Wildlife Habitat & Green Business. The Forest is open to all children.

Describe the project, program, or initiative this grant will support to address the issue.

The creation of a Children’s Forest for all children is in the ECF ethos. As a Green School, ECF recycles, saves, repairs toys, bikes & books, uses natural objects - flower petals, leaves, found wood - gives any left over water from hand washing to the plants, teaches children to be stewards of the gardens, forests, oceans and earth. The Forest will be open to ECF children M-F. All children will be welcome on Saturdays with their adult. With more resources we will increase the days it is open to all. During the grant period and beyond, children will learn about climate change, gardening best practices, organic and healthy living, growing their own food without pesticides in this garden and how to make their own gardens - even on a window sill - by planting the top of a carrot or clipping a head of lettuce or sprouting an avocado pit, etc. Children will learn to be environmentally conscientious stewards of Earth, realizing their place in it all. The Children’s Forest will be overseen and cared for by our gardening staff with additional volunteers as a weekly cooperative. We will hire a dedicated docent-gardener for upkeep, questions and helping at Saturday children’s workshops. Small bike paths will meander through trees and gardens while pollinators thrive. This will be a place for children to grow and eat healthy food, to breathe cleaner air, to visit with one another, to wonder, laugh and play, to learn how to care for the environment, and to find their place in nature.

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

In the first year The Forest will be created & opened to children. The program will become established in this first location. In the next years it will be opened to a higher number of children on an increased schedule. Children will grow up whole, understanding their inherent wisdom & abilities, experiencing joy freely as children should. It will be duplicated in other paved spaces in LA, serving more. Our city children need forests to explore, climb on, to be free within a framework of safety & attentiveness. They will be safe here, it is open to the public of children. They will learn to grow their own food without pesticides, be healthier, happier, self-confident & aid the climate. In the gardens they will practice creative/flexible thinking, problem solving, emotional regulation, develop faith in their instincts, gain knowledge, skills & a lifetime of joy. The Forest will become accessible to all children as the years pass & continue to expand - it is crucial for all children.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

We will measure success by the number of community children able to experience the wonder of The Children’s Forest and attend the gardening workshops, as well as the number of volunteers the Forest attracts and how many community members our collective knowledge can reach. The presence of children in the community will be promoted. We will measure success by how much organic food we grow for the community & school children, what they learn and experience, how many schools allow their children to join. In following years, success will be measured by the number of additional Forests we can create throughout LA. As an edible garden, a green space and an oasis in the neighborhood, we will also measure success by the birds & pollinators who are attracted and thriving there. We will also measure success by how little water we will use, and the systems we create systems to divert any waste. We define success by the sparkle in the eyes of children, their full bellies & a sustainable future.

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

Direct Impact: 1,100

Indirect Impact: 1,100