As part of a project that helps improve the environment and feed the needy and also involves a group of energetic University of La Verne students, a hydroponic greenhouse is on its way to undetermined site in Glendora.
In a hydroponic greenhouse, vegetables and herb crops are grown without the use of soil.
Glendora resident Vicki Brown is the founder and CEO of Sowing Seeds for Life, the fast-growing charitable non-profit organization that feeds some 6,000 needy people per month in the East San Gabriel Valley. And students from La Verne, as well as those from other area colleges and high schools, have become very involved with Sowing Seeds for Life.
This brings us to the hydroponic greenhouse that will soon be a part of the Glendora landscape.
Vicki Brown’s son, Gregory DeSmet, recently noticed an ad on Craig’s List that a hydroponic greenhouse was for sale by a private party in Covina. Gregory called this person, who prefers to remain anonymous, and asked if he might donate the greenhouse to a charity.
Gregory explained what Sowing Seeds for Life, or SSFL, is all about. It provides food, clothes and services to the needy on the first and third Wednesday of every month in the parking lot at DPI Labs at 1350 Arrow Highway in La Verne. Vicki Brown is also the CEO of DPI Labs, an aerospace company that manufactures parts and instruments for the inside of private jets.
Most of the food that is handed out at the Sowing Seeds for Life food pantries comes from donations. But, as its name implies, Sowing Seeds for Life also grows some of the vegetables and produce that is given out.
Gregory also explained to the anonymous donor that the organization has been looking for a greenhouse, particularly one that is as good for the environment as a hydroponic greenhouse.
The primary crops grown in a hydroponic greenhouse are such produce as peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, herbs, and strawberries.
This particular hydroponic greenhouse also includes a tilapia fish tank, and tilapia fish are particularly nutritious and healthy for children.
How could the donor say no? And he didn’t.
That’s where a group of about 30 University of La Verne incoming freshmen, plus their leader, junior Ziggy Azarcon, come into play. They showed up on a recent hot Saturday to help out with a variety of SSFL projects, including dismantling the hydroponic greenhouse in Covina in preparing it for its journey to Glendora.
ULV emphasizes that its students, besides learning from books and class assignments, learn from other experiences by getting involved in charitable activities and thus becoming well-rounded individuals.
An example of that is ULV’s involvement with SIFE, which stands for Students in Free Enterprise. This international program has a presence in more than 1,500 universities in some 40 countries. The strong La Verne chapter is headed by Dr. Issam Ghazzawi, an associate professor of business management.
And La Verne’s SIFE chapter has become quite involved in SSFL events.
Now there is this group of freshmen who are studying either American literature or business. This group is headed by Dr. William Cook, a professor of American literature, and Dr. Ahmed Ispahani, a professor of business administration and economics.
On the Saturday before school began, the group met at DPI Labs and then went by bus to the SSFL community garden at Falcon Ranch located in the San Dimas Canyon Park area. There they were joined by Dr. Jonathan Reed, the dean of ULV’s college of arts and sciences who is also a professor of religion, and University Chaplain Zandra Wagoner, who also serves as the director of community engagement.
At Falcon Ranch, the students loaded the organically-treated dirt in pots, which were taken to property adjacent to the Seventh Day Adventist Church at 777 North Glendora Ave. for future use in planting citrus trees.
From there, a separate group was selected to go to Covina to help dismantle the greenhouse and also move the large tilapia fish tank into a truck trailer for transporting. That was quite a project in itself.
The day showed that young people are more than willing to offer a helping hand when it is such a worthwhile project. And this one, be it in a small way, involves improving the environment and feeding the needy.
The University of La Verne and Sowing Seeds for Life, along with CEO Vicki Brown, once again have shown they make a good team. A key member of the SSFL team is volunteer Marilee Goodwin of Glendora, who was on hand to help supervise the recent projects involving the La Verne freshmen.
In this cynical world in which we live, it is sometimes easy to forget that there are still a lot of people who do a lot of good.
For more information on Sowing Seeds for Life, go to www.sowingseedsforlife.org.