I’m gonna be honest. Getting sober is challenging. A lot of my peers haven’t gotten clean, but I’m lucky. This is a pretty therapeutic job. It’s so cool to watch plants grow. They are like baby birds hatching. First thing after the root, a sprout comes up out of the dirt. It’s what survived. Later come the plant’s true leaves. Educationally, I am a sprout. This is the first time I’ve liked the educational system. If I weren’t here, I’d be in a very different place, a much worse place.
Student in Violeta’s Class
I have always, always, always learned something new in Violeta’s classes. The seasons of the fruits. How to cut cilantro to maintain more nutrients. How to use quinoa and jicama. How to incorporate mandarin oranges into a salad. Never even thought of putting fruit in a salad. And so many textures and flavors together -- smooth couscous, crunchy almonds, hot chili, rough mint. I make the recipes at home, and my kids must at least try a bite. If they don’t like it, I eat it all myself!
I get paid a good wage to learn. I am learning how to attract customers and sell. People in the market are friendly. I talk to them, ask questions and make them feel comfortable. When I first sold something, I felt happy that I accomplished what I set out to do. I think of the word riqueza, or enrichment, because here, you can receive a lot of money enrichment AND self-enrichment. This experience helps me to express myself. I used to want to be a model. Now, I want to be a pilot.
I have a green thumb. I was doing just flowers. Then Herman gave me some collard greens with smoked neck bones. After I ate it he told me it was from this garden and I was like, “I’m eating stuff from around my house? I never ate something I grew right here!” Well, we do keep it real clean in the garden, and is WAS delicious. So I’m like my grandma now, growing my own food. It’s relaxing, meditative. I’d like to see all of Sunnydale be one big meditation garden. Spread it out from here.
It was hard coming from Florida. I never saw houses so bunched up. I started helping in the garden. My favorite is working with the chef. The deal with lemon is you can add it in marinade for steak, halibut, salmon, salad. It goes good with everything. I’ll be able to make my own food -- healthy, delicious, not frozen, but fresh. In my refrigerator I’ll have watermelon, peaches, mango, chicken, lettuce, fettuccine, tomatoes, eggs, whipped cream, sirloin steak, pesto… and lemons.
I make 10 gallons of worm compost every month. I know their whole life cycle. Rain can make them leave the worm bin. Heat can dry them up or they can freeze in winter. Feed them greens mostly, coffee grounds and eggshells are ok, strawberries are good. Nothing acidic -- no onions, no citrus. People ask, “Heh, can I use your worms for fishing?” I’ll say, “Go get a cup of water, dig a hole, pour it in. You’ll get an earthworm for your bait. These are red wrigglers. They make compost.”
I have problems with my health. I haven’t always eaten so well. I know food grown with chemical toxins is not good for your health, so I want to eat more veggies and fruits. I love my family -- my two sons and my husband. If I learn how to eat healthy, I can show them. First parents, then sons. I want them to know that if you eat healthy, you will have a healthy future. My boys are my life. They are my treasures. Today was my very first class with Violeta. My sons are why I’m here.
I have a passion for cooking. I am not “gifted”. No one is gonna know it off the top of their head. You have to research it, study it, and from there on – more effort, more dedication. Take in info, use your experience, don’t repeat mistakes. Set your mind to it, anyone can. Don’t limit yourself with what others think or what stereotypes are out there. Get a job, love it, and it’s like you’ve never worked a day in your life. That’s how I feel about cooking. For me, it heals my mind.
I love learning to cook. I get to try foods I’ve never had, like eggplant, like herbs, like oregano and thyme. I also like that we garden. It’s a useful skill. I like planting things I don’t usually see in my community, like romaine lettuce. I’ve never seen that. When I get older I want to have a garden. It makes me feel closer to Mother Nature and the Earth. It just feels good. My dream is to become a chef. I‘ll feel proud when I’ve just cooked Eggplant Parmesan for 10 people.
Karla & Ariel
The class experimented and realized that a salad isn’t just one thing, but many things. Fruits, vegetables, and grain support a different part of our nutrition. He’ll be more open to a wider variety of food and he’ll be pushing us to prepare different foods at home.
I cut the oranges. There is a rainbow in the sky and a rainbow on our plate.Avocado and lettuce are green, mandarins are orange, corn chips are blue, chili is red, beans are purple. Salad as big as the whole night sky. –Ariel
My grandma, Barbara Ann Williams kept up this garden after Ms. Cleo passed. I like putting in seeds. Once you water, you know they are going to grow. You come back 3-4 days later and you see a big plant you helped make. I like the sunshine, the birds, the different kinds of creatures, the snails, the bees, the butterflies. This is a place of nature. A place of fresh air. A place where you can chill. Think about things. Be around good friends. At night, you can even hear coyotes.
I was the type of person who stayed in my room on my phone. Then I got a job here. There’s always something new to do. One day greenhouse, next day soil. Or like making lip balm: We grow flowers, dry the petals, add oil, let it soak, and then take it to our solar-powered kitchen and melt it with beeswax from our bees. Then we sell it. It’s organic, so people like it and want to know how we made it. We have strong, trustworthy friendships here. We grow closer in this garden. It’s cool.