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A Passion for Gardening: from Texas to LA

By Elizabeth Hall

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Brie Wakeland has been a part of GSF since 2015, starting as a Seed-to-Table and Garden Intern in the Fall of 2015 and Spring of 2016. She currently serves as Program Coordinator at Aldama and Grand View Elementary.  She is a native of Texas but has called California her home for the last nine years.

When did you first become interested in gardening?

Gardening first became an interest for me as a young child. I grew up on eight acres, which had formerly been a dairy farm. The soil was dry and lifeless in most areas, and I remember attempting to grow tomatoes one year, without success. It left me sad and curious to learn more about the plant world. I loved exploring as a child in the woods, orchards and meadows around my house. My fondest and strongest memories of plants as a child, would include my mimosa treehouse, pecan tree, blackberry bushes, and the smell of garlic growing in my backyard.

 

You became involved with GSF last fall through our internship program. What inspired you to seek an internship with GSF? How has your internship with GSF helped you reach your career goals?

I came across GSF by chance. I was leaving my local YMCA in DTLA and noticed a farmer’s market close by. I went over to browse and was drawn to the GSF stall which had some seedlings for sale. I asked many questions about the organization that day, since I had been searching for a community or school garden to volunteer with, and bought a thyme plant which I still have on my windowsill. I became an intern less than a month after. It has been an extraordinary and life changing experience.

You currently teach garden classes at Aldama Elementary School and Grand View Elementary School. Can you tell our readers a little about your teaching aesthetic?

It is my mission to teach in a style that shows my personal passion for gardening, nutrition and culinary arts. I believe that one of the best ways to teach a child to love and appreciate something in life is by letting them witness you doing things with passion, peace, and joy.

 

As Southern California continues to face one of the most severe droughts in recent history, what do you think are the main challenges to sustainable gardening in Los Angeles?

Lack of awareness and understanding. I am blessed to be doing the work I do with GSF and the UCCE Master Gardeners, since we are educating and inspiring children and adults to be good stewards of this earth, which will help with these challenges and many others.


Although you are a Dallas native, you’ve lived in LA for almost a decade. What are your favorite aspects of the food culture in LA?

I love the diversity of the food culture in LA. Part of me daydreams to be a vegetarian food critic. I’ve always loved eating out, as well as, cooking in. Eating out inspires me to try new things at home. I am overjoyed that through my work with GSF doors have opened that have led me to a path where I am assisting with two different food education groups Hipcooks and Slow Food Preservers LA.

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