BY SHERRI YORK
Soon after, Nelson, inspired by Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard program, packaged his product into an elaborate kit for educators. Complete with fifty Woolly Pockets, garden materials, and a curriculum, he made Woolly Schoolyards available to schools for $1000. Most of the schools raise the money for the program through fundraising or the donation tool Nelson hosts on the Woolly Schoolyard website. About seven Westside schools use Woolly Pockets; one hundred schools use them nationwide.
Ocean Charter School, nestled between Mar Vista and Venice, installed Woolly Pockets to enliven both their playground and their lesson plans. Jetty Stutzman, parent and selfappointed “queen of greening and beautification,” said that vertical gardening provided the learning gardens required to complete the experiential education needed at her nearly asphalt-covered school. Students in fourth through eighth grades grow edibles, ornamentals, and beneficial plants as the lessons dictate. Fifth graders learning about Roman culture, for example, grow a pizza garden in one pocket and medicinal herbs from the period in another.
Math Teacher and plant enthusiast, Mauricio Arambula, uses gardening to give his Venice High School students real life scenarios for using math. The kids are eager to get outside of the classroom and the upright pockets make it easier for them to work around.
The most desirable gardening environment is still in healthy ground soil with good drainage and proper sunlight, Nelson admitted, but very few in Los Angeles have these ideal conditions in their cramped suburban yards.
“The economies of scale for a Los Angeles plot garden are so high, few people actually plant edibles,” he said.
Woolly Pockets’ modular system fits in nearly any indoor or outdoor vertical space that offers sunshine. And even without land or direct sunlight, truly committed gardeners can use Woolly Pockets with a simple light package for gardening just about anywhere their green thumbs need to dig.