Celebrating Mother Earth

In Hayward, day laborers and young children are celebrating Earth Day by planting a vegetable garden dedicated to kids that will later yield  produce they can pick and take home to their families.

Gabriel Hernandez, a director at the Hayward Day Labor Center, said workers spent the past week preparing an overgrown plot of the center's  community garden for this morning's Earth Day tribute.

The celebration, one of many tributes large and small across the Bay Area, was set to begin with speakers at 11 a.m., including a worker who  helped prepare the garden.

At 11:30, roughly a dozen young children from the neighboring Eden Youth and Family Center Daycare program were to be turned loose to plant  radishes, corn, lettuce, tomatoes, zucchini and flowers.

Hernandez said the center chose fast-growing vegetables to give the young gardeners relatively rapid returns on their efforts.

"With the economic times, the kids that come here might be able to use the garden to feed their families," Hernandez said.

The event is the center's second annual Earth Day celebration.  Last year, workers cleared out an overgrown garden space on the center's  campus, an old school facility at 680 W. Tennyson Road, on which to plant.

"Every time we work the land, they're always at the fence, just staring," Hernandez said of the children at Eden Childcare. The roughly 10-  by 30-foot section planted today will be designated as the children's plot.

Hernandez said workers spent the past week meticulously weeding by hand and preparing the soil, which was tested and certified as lead-free.

"A part of what we do at the center is figure out a way to integrate the men and the workers in the community," he said. "You can't get  any closer than that in terms of sharing stuff like this."

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