Neel Bhoopalam and four classmates step carefully around the small yellow flags dotting an L-shaped plot of dirt at Central Avenue and Jefferson Boulevard in South Los Angeles. The brightest spots of color in the small lot, the flags mark the path of an underground sprinkler system for what will be an oasis of greenery — and hope.
The plot of land between St. Patrick’s Church and the busy thoroughfare doesn’t look like much yet. But before the spring semester is over, staff and volunteers at nearby nonprofit A Place Called Home will transform it into an urban “Garden of Eden” featuring citrus, persimmon and pomegranate trees as well as greens, tomatoes and roses. When the plants mature, neighbors will take the bounty of organic flowers, fruit and vegetables home.
The transformation will take place thanks to a $10,000 grant that Bhoopalam and members of his class project team earned through a long-standing …