The idea came from Vince Mahar, a future Brave, currently in 8th grade at St. Dominic Savio Elementary after walking the 36-acres at St. John Bosco, “I am so excited about a shared school garden that will be a great learning experience and help strengthen our community. In these times, a school garden is a valuable resource in teaching the importance of nutrition.”
Through the simple act of growing, cooking, eating, learning and thinking about food, a person develops skills that strengthen both their academic and non-academic worlds. A working and food-producing garden provides a place for developing students to apply principles of botany, biology, chemistry and engineering to say the least. Young students learn how the environmental world works by conducting simple experiments, providing evidence and developing conclusions. Older students build on this knowledge with activities such as tree grafting, soil pH testing and bio-mimicry projects, where students study designs found in nature then create and test ideas to improve upon those designs. This hands-on approach is engaging, fun and provides an end result that literally feeds both mind and body.
Nathan Corkhill, AP Environmental Science Instructor at St. John Bosco, said: “The Bosco Community Garden is a unique opportunity for students to learn valuable lessons from food production on campus. From the sustainability of food waste operations to serving others through locally grown and cultivated vegetation, our Garden will drastically improve student physical and mental health, and I am so proud and honoured to be a part of this green step forward.”
The St. John Bosco Community Garden will not only provide edible education programming that connects the classroom to the organic produce growing outdoors, but it will also be designed to implement sustainable practices. Students and community will see how simple steps such as composting kitchen scraps from lunches, cycle back into the garden and are transformed into nutrient-rich soil. Students will see how large harvests of figs, tomatoes and cucumbers are processed into jams, sauces and pickles. These items can be stored and used to enhance lunches or sold to create funding to maintain the garden. This garden has the potential to complete the circle that connects students to the importance of where delicious and nutritious food comes from. The results are students who develop strong values about their stewardship of the environmental world. These are the children who will grow up and contribute to their community and to the care and health of our planet.
The benefits of the garden include but are not limited to beautification, environmental, economic and improved health. The design and maintenance of the garden will be overseen by Los Angeles County Master Gardener and Edible Landscape Trainer, Alex Aleshire. “Throughout my years of working to bring gardens back to schoolyards, I’ve seen first-hand how an edible garden truly enriches all aspects of a person’s life long education.”
The growing of crops will be planned in seasonal rotations and will create an outdoor learning environment for all grades, kindergarten through senior classes. For example, four to six weeks before seasonal changes, students will be seed starting crops for the next rotation that will be then transplanted into the garden beds. The Fall and Spring weather conditions in our area are especially supportive to the growth of nutrient-rich, dark leafy greens such as spinach, collard greens and all types of kale and lettuce. In early Spring, students will begin to plan the Summer fruit crops along with a variety of flowers that help promote beneficial insects. Some Fall crops will be left to go to seed. Seeds will be collected, dried and stored for next year’s seed starting.
The farm-to-table movement has been instrumental in the quest to build a better food system, one in which both the producers (students, teachers and staff) and consumers (students and teachers) benefit in educational, nutritional and economically. The organic produce will be used by Executive Chef Doug Fore in the daily lunch service Farm to School.