Best Marriage of Boxing and Gardening

East Oakland Boxing Association/Urban Fresh Gardeners

On a desolate stretch of 98th Avenue near the 880 freeway in Oakland, there are some hopeful sprouts. Inside the gym, two scrappy boys spar in the ring and you half expect Cutty from The Wire to be looking on. Just outside is a series of waist-high raised beds packed with corn, tomatoes, beans, and squash, and there's a greenhouse where local teens cultivate entrepreneurial skills and plant starts. Marigolds, heirloom tomatoes, sweet alyssum, and okra sell for $2 to $3 for four-inch pots or six-packs. Here are the vaunted green jobs, on an embryonic scale. The garden program is powered by Gerard Priester (call him Chef G), a dreadlocked Florida transplant with knacks for growing food and engaging kids. The kids, ranging in age from five to twenty, are drawn from the surrounding Deep East Oakland neighborhood to participate in free after-school and summer programs. In addition to boxing and gardening, EOBA offers tutoring; pottery, music, dance, and nutrition classes; and martial arts.

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