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Seeds of Justice - Watts Garden Club

Seeds of Justice - Watts Garden Club

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Published by: Watts Garden Club of Los Angeles CA USA on Nov 25, 2010
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Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope
In the midst of the toxic atmosphere of Watts, seeds are sprouting, organic gardens are thriving, young people arediscovering a vocation, and healthy, whole foods are becoming part of everyday life.Anna Marie Carter, "The Seed Lady" of Watts, brings organic food and gardens to the people of South Central LosAngelesIf you could imagine a place that has the highest crime rates, the largest drug saturation, the greatest welfare recipient population, and the fastest HIV-positive infection rates in one of the richest cities, in the richest state, in the richestcountry in the entire world, then you could begin to imagine Watts, California—a district in South Central LosAngeles.My name is Anna Marie Carter, but I am also known as “The Seed Lady” of Watts. I am a certified Master Gardener through the University of California. I practice direct action by building free, organic gardens for people who suffer from HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, and other illnesses.My advocacy takes me to drug/alcohol/mental health facilities, community centers, schools, inside of housing projects, and to shelters that house women who are returning to our community from prison. I teach people how togrow their own food, organically. But that is not all I teach them.The environment in Watts is toxic. We are told not to drink the water. The air is polluted, and there is not much rain.Multi-generational gangs, multiple drug usage, carnal value systems resulting from being institutionalized by thewelfare system for generations, and low morality all add up to no self-esteem, depression, overcrowding, crime, andescapism through unprotected sex and drugs. Where there seems like there is no hope, there is no reason to be happyor to act decently or to dream.External forces dictate here. I have yet to meet a drug addict who harvests his own drugs. There are no coca plants or  poppies growing here. All this madness is imported by the tons to this community—daily!The health of the community is further jeopardized by the lack of real food. The food available in South Central LosAngeles is genetically engineered, pesticide-laden, hybridized, and irradiated. The majority of people here eat foodthat is bagged, bottled, canned, boxed, or frozen. A majority of this food comes from South America and Mexicothrough free trade agreements. We do not even get food grown in California. DDT is still widely used in LatinAmerica.There is no access to whole foods here. The highly processed food and low-quality meats affect the health, both physical and mental, of everyone here.I had an organic vegetables, seeds, and plants store many years ago on Crenshaw Boulevard. The first day I went toopen the front door and I looked behind me and there stood three little boys, lined up in a row, like they were in thearmy. I opened the door and they came in, after saying “Good morning,” and proceeded to take all my plants outsideand set up the organic vegetable and flowers stands for the day. They were sent to me by a higher source.I taught them many things. We planted tomatoes out back that grew over seven feet tall. The boys sold the tomatoesand used the money for school clothes and supplies. One even paid his mother's utility bills. They are grown now, butwhen I see them they kiss and hug and thank me.After I graduated as a Master Gardener, I began my internship at the former Watts Family Garden. We lost the battleto save the garden from sale, so I took my newly formed garden club into the city of Los Angeles' recreation center 
inside the Jordan Downs Housing Projects. Here we taught a class called the “Value of a Seed,” taking the children tothe gardens and planting the ingredients that go into pesto, salsa, coleslaw, and other products. We taught the childrenhow to design recipes and logos for their food products.With the help of donations to the Watts Garden Club, we bought our own center in the heart of Watts in 2002. At theClub, we have our own Community Supported Agriculture project (CSA), which provides fresh farm produce to theinvisible populations here, and we operate our own produce stand and farmers' market. We train youth in agriculturalentrepreneurship (which include classes in manners, grooming, hospitality, and vendor education). We teach “TheValue of a Seed” on organic gardening and creating value-added products. Participants in the “Made in Watts” classmake their own bath products for sale to our community. The “Organic Greenhouse” class teaches people to growlettuce, herbs, and flowers indoors. The center will soon have a greenhouse in the courtyard. “The Kitchen” coversvegan and vegetarian cooking. We also hold anti-drug/gang rallies, HIV support groups, and holistic workshops. Weinvolve the community in garden construction, and we network with other low-income communities of color. Wehave over 200 students at our center, and we go out to where people are to plant gardens and teach classes.One of the students in the Watts Garden Club is a young man we will call David. He has never met his father, who isserving a life sentence in prison. His mother is on drugs and his stepfather is a drug dealer. David is hyperactive andcannot stop moving his hands. He is asthmatic, uses an inhaler, and takes Ritalin. At 11 years old, he is a prime targetto join a gang. He is talkative and likes to use his hands. I taught him how to build containers and plant herbs, flowers,and vegetables. He learned how to ask retailers if he can beautify their landscape with his creations. He has a picture book of his work and is always very successful. Now the biggest hurdle to clear is his inability to save.We also offer think tank sessions at the Garden Club. Here we plant the seeds of change, knowledge, andremembrance by facing our history and tasting the bitterness of slavery, oppression, injustice, and self-hatred. Wetake these emotions, bond with each other like never before, and then, fast-forwarding to the 21st century, we take afull assessment of where we stand today, here in Watts, California. In a circle, with the help of a facilitator, we havetwo-hour jam sessions that make the sweetest music—the sound of thinking people who are awakened fully to thecalling of addressing our communities' problems and creating viable solutions. We are networking and formingalliances to initiate direct action to expedite change.If you look at history, you can see it takes only one person to change an environment—one person who takes a stand,an advocacy, an action. It takes only one person to change the entire world. Once upon a time we were taught here inWatts “Power to the People.” I have lived through that to tell you what I know for sure, and that is People are thePower. And it only takes one—you!Find your true path by preserving your health and your environment. Eat organically and do not smoke. It does notmatter how pretty you are, where you live, how many degrees you have, or what you drive, if you don't start savingthis planet, soon you won't have anywhere to live.
Watts Garden Club
c/o Anna Marie Carter P.O. Box 431312Los Angeles, CA. 90043Watts Garden Club is a Not-for-Profit, Grassroots, NGO.All donations Tax Deductible
We are a "GREEN POWER MOVEMENT"We do not discriminate against anyone, never have and never will! PEACE
Our Founder is Anna Marie Carter aka "The Seed Lady of Watts.
2010 is Ms. Carters 35th Anniversary of serving the State of California teaching organic, holistic community. With many awards over the years, Ms. Carter is especially honored to have received an award from the Dali Lama atthe World Festival of Sacred Music at UCLA.Her service award was a tray, reminding her to continue to serve the people. Starting the Watts Garden Club and then advancing to the Zenzale Projects, Ms. Carter will be retiring in less than 24months.As a retired, disabled, senior citizen, Ms. Carter wishes to realize her dream of "Ghetto Organics in the OrganicGhetto".Turning down an offer of 10 Billion dollars a year from the Peoples Republic of China to "sell out", give up her name, product lines, likeness, soul and spirit, Ms. Carter is determined to create healthy, natural products "In the 'Hood, For the 'Hood, By the 'Hood"."If I can give everyone on my block a job, to create products that we use that are healthy, I will be successful increating a better community, where I live, breathe and sleep!That's what I call "Blooming where you are planted!I am looking for interested green job trainees in Detroit, Watts, West/East Oakland, and South Los Angeles who believe we can create holistic products, green jobs and organic community all at the same time!This is our time NOW!" In our fundraising products section, you will find new exciting healthy products designed just for you!Each product employs someone that is considered "unemployable".50 percent of sales are donated directly to the Zenzale Projects that feed people in the 'hood, create more products andour main objective - SAVING SEEDS!Real food for real people - heirloom, organic seeds for our gardens, and for our future ancestors to experience REALFOOD! ~As a response to the People of the United States Of America, who contact us daily horrified at what they are learningabout our food supply being contaminated by "Bio-Tech" companies, we say -"Stop staring into the "screens", go outside and start growing more of your own food organically!" YOU CAN MAKE THE CHANGE NOW!Take responsibility for your own organic nutrition and stop blaming "Bio-Tech" for your obesity, hypertension,depression, and hunger!Get your neighbors to grow food and share it with one another! Involve the seniors and children on your block.

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