At the University of La Verne, the aim is to produce not only well-educated individuals but also well-rounded ones. Students are required to put in a certain amount of time doing community service, and here is another example of that.
A group of incoming freshmen and their leader, junior Ziggy Azarcon, spent last Saturday, two days before school started, working on projects for Sowing Seeds for Life, the La Verne-based charity that feeds some 6,000 needy people per month in the East San Gabriel Valley.
Among other things, this particular project involved dismantling a donated hydroponic greenhouse in Covina so that it can be moved to a yet undetermined site in Glendora.
In a hydroponic greenhouse, vegetables and herb crops are grown without the use of soil. This type of greenhouse is very environmentally friendly. You could call it a green greenhouse.
Vicki Brown, the founder and CEO of Sowing Seeds for Life, has been instrumental in getting students from ULV as well as those from Azusa Pacific University and Damien High and other area schools involved with her non-profit charity.
Vicki Brown’s son, Gregory DeSmet, recently noticed an ad on Craig’s List that a hydroponic greenhouse was for sale by a private party in Covina. Gregory called this person, who prefers to remain anonymous, and asked if he might donate the greenhouse to a charity.
Gregory explained what Sowing Seeds for Life, or SSFL, is all about. It provides food, clothes and services to the needy on the first and third Wednesday of every month in the parking lot at DPI Labs at 1350 Arrow Highway in La Verne. Vicki Brown is also the CEO of DPI Labs, an aerospace company that manufactures parts and instruments for the inside of private jets.
Most of the food that is handed out at the Sowing Seeds for Life food pantries comes from donations. But, as its name implies, Sowing Seeds for Life also grows some of the vegetables and produce that is given out.
Gregory also explained to the anonymous donor that the organization has been looking for a greenhouse, particularly one that is as good for the environment as a hydroponic greenhouse.
The primary crops grown in a hydroponic greenhouse include peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs, and strawberries.
This particular hydroponic greenhouse also includes a tilapia fish tank, and tilapia fish are particularly nutritious and healthy for children.
How could the donor say no? And he didn’t.
The next problem was moving this large greenhouse to a site probably near Vicki Brown’s home in Glendora. This is where the group of about 30 ULV incoming students ended up helping out.
UNLV students, including members of the track team and members of SIFE, which stands for Students in Free Enterprise, have been involved with other Sowing Seeds for Life projects.
This group was made of incoming freshmen who planned to study either American literature or business. The group is headed by Dr. William Cook, a professor of American literature, and Dr. Ahmed Ispahani, a professor of business administration and economics.
On Saturday, the group met at DPI Labs and then went by bus to the SSFL community garden at Falcon Ranch located in the San Dimas Canyon Park area. There they were joined by Dr. Jonathan Reed, the dean of ULV’s college of arts and sciences who is also a professor of religion, and University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner, who also serves as the director of community engagement.
At Falcon Ranch, the students loaded the organically-treated dirt in pots, which were taken to property adjacent to the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 777 North Glendora Ave. for future use in planting citrus trees.
From there, a separate group was selected to go to Covina to help dismantle the greenhouse and also move the large tilapia fish tank into a truck trailer for transporting. That was quite a project in itself.
The day showed that young people are more than willing to offer a helping hand when it is such a worthwhile project. And this one, be it in a small way, involves improving the environment and feeding the needy.
The University of La Verne and Sowing Seeds for Life, along with CEO Vicki Brown, once again have shown they make a good team. A key member of the SSFL team is volunteer Marilee Goodwin of Glendora, who was on hand to help supervise the recent projects involving the La Verne freshmen.
In this cynical world in which we live, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are still a lot of people who do a lot of good.
For more information on Sowing Seeds for Life, go to www.sowingseedsforlife.org.
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