Austin Welty

Hey I’m Austin Welty! I go to Azusa Pacific University and I’m interning for AFSC this fall. I’m excited to learn and teach food and peace education to high school students and make some great friends. Being healthy is key to living a vibrant life, and everyone deserves to be healthy and make healthy choices. I’m a positive person, and despite the overwhelming odds at times I believe in a better world. I can’t wait to be a part of AFSC’s mission and see the impact we will make on people’s lives!
Written: 24th September 2013

Lemon Balm Tea

Hello My name is Joanna Farias . Im 19 years old. I’m a senior at Central High School graduating in the summer. Wanted to share a recipe for Lemon balm.

The first time I had it was actually the very day I made it!  We needed drinks for a school ceremony honoring our staff at the center. It was a last minute idea.  We were in need of some refreshments to give to our invited guests.  Not having much time before starting, and making the choice to not serve sugary drinks, it occurred to me to go into our school garden that AFSC helped build and maintain on a weekly basis.  We had some lemon-balm growing, so I took a risk and made some tea out of it. I was honored when many people enjoyed it.

What I love about this tea is that it’s easy to make, its low on sugar, its healthy, refreshing, and great to share with invited guests.  It’s great for those hot summer afternoons.



1 gallon of water

12 sprigs of lemon balm

2 lemons thinly sliced (for color and added flavor)

¼ – ½ cup of sugar



First you boil the water, and add the lemon balm.  Boil the lemon balm for 20-25 minutes. Then you strain the tea to remove the tea leafs. Put it in the refrigerator as a quick method to cool down the tea. Minimum time 15 minutes. Afterwards you add sugar, ice, and slices of lemons. Finally, the tea is ready to serve iced cold or chilled.

Written: 3rd June 2013

Our Community Health Fair

Every year, All People’s Community Center hosts a health fair for the community.  Each time, our class (Central High School) does its best to participate.  This year the health fair had a wide variety of booths to inform the community about the many resources available in our area.  There were many services offered such as free dental screenings, health demonstrations, and free food. The gym was packed with people of all ages from children to the elderly.

We were responsible for teaching our community about the garden that we have been working on for over 3 years. For example, we started by presenting a display of sugar cubes, as well as different types of junk foods including sodas, energy drinks, and candy.  We then led visitors in a guessing game: “How many sugar cubes do you think are in this soda?” When we show them the amount of sugar, many people exclaimed: “WOW!”

We asked them: “Would any of you eat this many sugar cubes? Everyone responded, “NO!” So instead, we gave them practical and healthy alternatives to make at home like homemade fruit water or “agua fresca.” We wanted them to feel in control of what they consume by preparing good snacks at home. Afterwards, we led them outside on a tour of our beautiful garden.

We showed them our “famous” collard greens, mustard greens, broccoli, snap peas, herb spiral, beets, lettuce, kale, chiles, and carrots. They were very impressed and asked how they could be involved, in both the parent and student gardens.  Our role was to demonstrate how growing a garden is economical, healthier and fun.  After the tour, we handed them herbs to take home and plant. They showed a lot of interest, and were happy with the samples we gave them. One person commented, “It is a very beautiful garden. It shows how serious you all are about health.”

It was a great experience where everyone involved got something out of it. Thus we planted a “seed of knowledge” in each person, hoping it will grow and they will become involved.

By: Joanna Farias and Teresa Munguia
Written: 22nd April 2013

The Blessings of Gardening

Hey 🙂 My name is Tatiana but I go by Tati. I’m a student attending Central High School in the Mar Vista Gardens. In my everyday life, gardening wasn’t really something that interested me. When I actually began to garden at school and with AFSC, I became way more fond of it. We grow so many plants to beautify our garden, and our pond and waterfall just adds to the beauty and peacefulness. We’ve been planning over the weeks to convert the frame of our pond and transforming it into a tile mosaic.

We plant according to the season. We usually plant in our raised beds things we can harvest like lettuce, celery, jalapenos, broccoli and even herbs like cilantro and oregano. Not too long ago did we just that, harvest everything we had in our garden and cooked it in class.  We ended up making a bison stir fry, everything except the meat came out of our garden.

The benefits I get through gardening is a much better eating habit. I have been eating much more organic food and it hasn’t been coming out my pocket daily – its been coming out the garden. My classmates and I also benefit from the garden in other ways. We have gained a greater appreciation for teamwork,we have better communication skills, and most of all we have gained much more respect for each other. When someone needs help, we will stop what were doing and lend a hand it helps the process move on smoother. Gardening has built relaxation in my system and has built bonds with my classmates. I can’t think of anything better to do.

Written: 5th April 2013

Food Program

Working with AFSC has been an exciting and rewarding experience. I have enjoyed every minute of it.  As an intern, every day seems to bring new experiences.  From working at Lincoln High School, visiting Mar Vista, and going to All People’s Community Center, there is always something new to do and people-centered adventures are around each corner.
At every site, there are students being taught the value of leadership, nutrition, and gardening. However, one of the major projects I am involved with is at All People’s Community Center. Students are now joining the center in an effort to give families insights for utilizing nutritious food and healthy recipes. Every week, the All People’s Community Center passes out an assortment of fruit and vegetables to give to the families in the community.  This year, students will not only helped pass out the food, but they developed tasty and unique recipes from the fruit and vegetable bags that are given away to the community. Students not only get to cook, but they create and write recipes to be shared with community members.

We jokingly refer to the process as “Iron Chef,” as students will not be able to know ahead of time what fruits or vegetables they will be using. Together we need be able to quickly develop the recipe on spot to present to the members the following day. The plan is to give out the recipes with the donation bags of fruits and vegetables. But their involvement does not end there, students will be able to speak to community members and explain to them the purpose of the recipes. The students will personally greet them and talk about the importance of nutrition. Then students will pass out samples of the recipe to show community members first-hand how tasty the recipes were. Community members will be able to recreate that recipe later with simple step-by-step explanations.
            The Cooking Program thus far has been a great success. Students are able to share recipes with their peers and community members. Students are learning kitchen safety, food nutrition, teamwork coordination and how to operate in a kitchen on their own.  It is exciting as an intern to hear positive feedback; the students enjoy themselves and are encouraged to view it as their own project. Some students have become so involved that they bring their own ingredients and supplies from home to the kitchen. After engaging in dialogue, students have revealed they have become more adventurous in their tastes. Some are beginning to try dishes they may never have wanted to before, some are even beginning to cook at home.
            Though it is part of a class, students seem to forget the classroom aspect and truly enjoy themselves. We play fun music to cook to and we create unique dishes. The most exciting part is to hear how the students themselves are enjoying the foods. Most of the dishes are vegan and are composed entirely of fruits and vegetables. Some students have shared that they feel healthier due to this program.

By: Jenny Campbell
Written: 26th March 2013

About the Intern

Hello! My name is Jenny Campbell and I am the current intern at AFSC. I am attending Azusa Pacific University and am majoring in Global Studies. Global studies has allowed me to spread my horizons and has encouraged me to move to action. Therefore I strive to be in a constant state of learning, collecting and archiving all sorts of information. I strongly believe in the power of community and the strength within each individual.

It has been my first time working with a nonprofit organization and I have loved every minute of it. Though my experience here has been varied, as we get to work on many different projects, my main focus during my internship has been teaching students how to cook. Together the students and I have been creating vegan recipes to share with the community! This experience has taught me so much and allowed me to develop different skills I have. From here, I hope to continue my travels and pursue my interest in the nonprofit world!

Written: 25th March 2013

Cal State LA Student Volunteer

Hello! My name is Nicole Altamirano and I am a student at Cal State University Los Angeles. This January 2013 I became involved with AFSC through my History course titled Modern Mexico and the Chicana/o People. The course pays particular attention to food, power and culture in Mexicana/o communities across the U.S./Mexico border. Our Professor, Dr. Enrique Ochoa, provided the class with two options for our term project: a community engagement project and a food history project. I chose the community engagement project because I was eager to learn more about community gardens and food justice, two concepts that were new to me.

So far I have contributed to two cooking sessions, an environmental racism exercise, and three gardening sessions at Lincoln High School.  I often find myself drawing connections between these sessions and what I have learned in class. For example, in our CSULA class we discussed the narrow scope of primary and secondary school curriculum and I feel the Roots for Peace class is serving as a supplement to Lincoln High’s program.  Students are learning skills such as gardening, reading food labels, how to make healthy choices, and cooking, all of which have been omitted from traditional curriculum. Lincoln High has also undergone severe budget cuts which further reduced the previously limited variety of classes available to students.
Volunteering at Lincoln High School always feels more like fun than work. I appreciate the opportunity AFSC has provided for students like me, who want to get involved in their community. Stay tuned, In an upcoming post I will be sharing photographs from our work with students at Lincoln High School.
Food has been a topic of conversation both in our CSULA class and at Lincoln High School. At CSULA we discussed how and to whom food is marketed, food accessibility, and who controls and works in food production. In our environmental racism session at the high school wediscussed the ratio of liquor stores to grocery stores and the availability (or lack of availability) of healthy foods in the immediate area. My sessions at Roots for Peace have enhanced and expanded my understanding of food, power and Mexicana/o communities.Every session I am able to interact with students and discuss more than just that day’s exercise. Conversations often lead to school and plans for college and I am always happy to share my experiences with students.

Written: 19 March 2013

Gardens in the Projects

My name is Elmo, Hambrecht Family Intern for AFSC in Los Angeles; and for the last three months I have been moving forward an idea that started with a vision, a classroom and a struggle. While attending Central HS in the Mar Vista Gardens Housing Projects, I built a school garden with my fellow classmates.  We called it “The Heart of the World.” That vision expanded into seeing every residential unit in the Mar Vista Housing Projects having a garden plot too.
We have begun our process by creating a relationship with the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles  to allow us to grow our vegetables; one step closer to self sustainability.

Three weeks ago we had our first Gardening Workshop, with a turnout of twelve residents and help from Milagro Allegro, Master Gardener. It was exciting to have residents take the gardening workshop and show an interest in having their own gardens. We will hold our next meeting soon. Residents and those who participated will be updated on our process.

As we continue to work toward the vision we once talked about in class and hoped to see in our community – we must wait patiently, but we will not stop. The students at Central have begun their seedlings for this season and the next. Preparation is steadiness and steadiness is readiness.

Written: 28 February 2013

Little Gardens Have a Big Impact in South LA

In February, LA Streets Blog writer Sahra Sulaiman, visited the family garden built with help from AFSC at the All Peoples Community.
The little boy tearing through the hallway at the All Peoples Community Center pulled up abruptly when he spotted Crystal Gonzalez, the Peace Education Coordinator with American Friends Service Committee.”When are we going to do the garden class? he asked excitedly, jumping up and down. “I want to do the worms again!”

Read rest of article.

Written: 22 February 2013

Students Taking Action

This semester we offered our first Roots for Peace direct action course at Lincoln High School.  In this particular 6 week class we stepped away from the garden in order to focus on the analysis of food justice issues and the development of a project(s) to create change.

Students looked at an array of issues.  They were particularly appalled by the unhealthy ingredients corporations sneak into our supposed “healthy” foods, the mounds of sugar lurking in soft drinks, the fact that their community doesn’t have a farmer’s market, AND the lack of access to a school lunch menu on campus. They decided to take action on all of these! They took on the role of nutrition peer educators.  Luring peers in with diced apples and peanut butter they asked, “Which peanut butter do you prefer? Jiffy or Shruders? Skippy or this unpopular brand?” Peers always chose the popular brands and then were told they contained hydrogenated oils. Oil demonstrated with the use of Crisco. “Skippy has THAT type of oil!?” students asked. “Yup,” was the response with heads nodding.

Students also wrote the last two weeks of the winter school lunch menu and posted it on the cafeteria wall AND they circulated a petition for a farmer’s market in Lincoln Heights. They got over 100 signatures! We were reminded of how powerful young people can be when they gain awareness around a social justice issue like food justice and community health.  We are very much looking forward to the projects to come in 2013.

Written: 21st December 2012