Retiring Duo Honored for Growing Gardens and Minds

By Nancy Martinez, EGP Staff Writer

BELL GARDENS – Two school club advisors set to retire after decades of educating young stu-dents about the principles of community gardening, were recognized Monday for putting the “Gardens” in Bell Gardens.

Eva Cupchoy and John Garza opened their first school-based community garden in Bell Gardens in 1993. Now all 28 schools in the Montebello Unified School District, including all schools in the city of Bell Gardens, have a garden.

On Monday, the Bell Gardens City Council recognized the duo with the city’s special “Far and Beyond” award.

“This award is for all the students, those from 24 years ago and the ones right now,” said Cupchoy upon receiving the award.

“We had a vision and we completed it,” Cupchoy said.

John Garza, left, and Eva Cupchoy, right, were honored Monday with the Far and Beyond award. (Photo courtesy of Lani Cupchoy)

John Garza, left, and Eva Cupchoy, right, were honored Monday with the Far and Beyond award. (Photo courtesy of Lani Cupchoy)

Mayor Jose Mendoza said both advisors have served as mentors to local students, telling EGP he wanted to recognize the positive contributions the two have made to the city.

“Given everything going on in the country and locally, I want to reiterate many great things are happening here in Bell Gardens,” he said.

The first five gardens were financed with nearly $180,000 in grant money obtained by the Campaign for a Healthier Bell Gardens (CHBG), a non-profit health initiative aimed at reducing diabetes and teen pregnancy in the city.

Garza said he saw the gardens as an opportunity to give back and make a difference.

“We saw 1000s of kids” come through the gardens, Garza recalled. “Hopefully we did enough to keep them out of trouble.”

Daisy Reyes thanked the advisors for changing her life through the garden club.

“I used to not like vegetables and now I make better choices,” said the young student, overcome with tears.

Cupchoy was visibly touched after receiving the award, repeatedly thanking the people that have crossed paths with the gardens.

“I will take my memories with the kids in the gardens,” she told the crowd. And “I will leave you with a message of perseverance, to never give up.”


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June 15, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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