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Gardenfest gives children a whiff of nature

Posted March 3, 2008

Tiffany Vlaanderen
Staff Writer

For many working parents who are unable to share the joy of gardening with their children, the city of La Verne’s GardenFest encourages intergenerational interaction at a springtime event all can enjoy. For the seventh year the residents of Hillcrest Homes on B Street and Seventh Street with the La Verne parks and community service department joined together to make this special event possible last Saturday.

The program was designed to offer stimulating activities for kids and parents to enjoy while learning how to give back to mother earth. An assortment of activities was offered including bunny hops, face painting, bubble blowing, tile making provided by Mudshack and gardening by Orchard Supply Hardware.

“It shows kids how plants grow and allows the Hillcrest residents to get involved,” La Verne parks and community director Bill Aguirre said
GardenFest is usually held on a nice spring day, but the gloomy weather on Saturday did not dampen the spirits of kids and adults.

Forty people signed up. The city sends a recreation brochure to residents and flyers to elementary schools,” Aguirre said.

The kids were not the only ones who enjoyed themselves. The Orchard Supply Hardware volunteers were shocked at how much fun the event turned out to be.

“I love it,” Diane Contreres, an employee of OSH, said.

OSH provided kids with two vegetable and flower seeds and a flower ready to cultivate in the soil at home. Kids enjoyed picking out which vegetables they wanted to see growing at home.

“The pots are biodegradable. You can just put the pot in the ground and you’re set,” Contreres said.

Student volunteers from Bonita High School’s Key Club helped the event run smoothly by providing face painting and bunny hops with kids.

“As the bunny I’m here to entertain the kids,” said Eric Espinosa, member of Bonita’s Key Club. “I just expected gardening, but there’s a lot more to it,” Espinosa said.

When the kids tired themselves out city volunteer Francis Divine provided refreshments to keep everyone going. Divine has volunteered for GardenFest for the past four years.

“If the city is involved I’m there. I’m probably the only senior there,” Divine said.

Hillcrest resident, Rock Grillette, provided tours of the Hillcrest gardens.
“Kids eat on a table and don’t know where it comes from,” Grillete said.

Many Hillcrest residents love the opportunity to see the kids smiling and learning about the earth’s growing process.

Many parents made it a trip to come out with other families to enjoy the morning.

“We go to winter wonderland, orange tree picking and GardenFest every year,” said Jennifer Partain, mom of Chloe Partain who attends Oak Mesa Elementary School.

Many of those involved with programs such as GardenFest are avid volunteers or supporters of many of the city’s programs to reach out to its residents. GardenFest is a reminder that the intergenerational community can coexist with nature and create lasting memories.

Tiffany Vlaanderen can be reached at