Spring Valley Elementary Builds Raised Garden Beds!

Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

Spring Valley community members and students ended the year by adding raised vegetable beds to their living schoolyard.

See more information on Spring Valley’s blog.


Contributed by Rachel Pringle, Senior Director of Programs, Education Outside
Photos by Taryn Colonnese, Education Outside Corps Member

San Francisco, CA

National Green Schoolyard Summit in Chicago

Green Schoolyards America was represented at the National Green Schoolyard Summit in Chicago on May 12th and 13th. Sharon Danks gave a joint presentation with Professor Bevin Ashenmiller (from Occidental College) about their ongoing cost-benefit analysis of green schoolyards.

More information on National Green Schoolyard Summit’s website.

View Dr. Bevin Ashenmiller & Sharon Dank’s slide presentation here.

Sheet Mulching Project at Sequoia Elementary

Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

This May, StopWaste led a lawn replacement at Sequoia Elementary. They had help from the community and the California Conservation Crew. 

StopWaste recommends these 5 steps for sheet mulching:

1. Prepare the site. Knock down or mow existing vegetation so that it lies flat. Remove only woody or bulky plant material.

2. Plant the larger plants. Before installing the sheet mulch, plant any 5 gallon or larger plants specified in the design.

3. Add a weed barrier. The next layer is an organic weed barrier that breaks down with time. It is essential that the barrier is permeable to water and air. Do not use plastic. Cardboard rolls are best with 8″ of overlap minimum.

4. Layer compost and mulch. This layer mimics newly fallen leaves, needles and other organic matter in forests. Good materials for this layer include chipped plant debris, tree prunings, leaves and straw.

5. Plant the smaller plants. Punch a hole in the cardboard and place plants in the soil under the sheet mulch. Smaller plants can often be planted right into the mulch/compost layer. 

More information can be found at StopWaste.org and in the 2015 Living Schoolyard Month Activity Guide.

Contributed by Cassie Bartholomew, Program Manager, StopWaste.
Photos by David Fenton

Oakland, CA

Students Learn about Bees through Firsthand Experience

Alice Fong Yu K-8 in San Francisco partnered with Planet Bee Foundation to place and maintain a live bee hive in their living schoolyard! Kindergarten and first graders enjoyed observing a frame from the school’s bee hive and had fun identifying the different parts of dead bees. 

Then they learned the basics of pollination through a fun game: each student received a pipe cleaner bee and then searched the garden for flowers to pollinate. After finding a flower their pipe cleaner “bees” were covered in pollen and they returned to their “bee hive” (egg carton) to deposit the pollen into cells. Third and fifth graders also looked at the hive and learned more about the honey bee life cycle. 

And lastly, the middle school Green Club students extracted honey from the frames. They scraped off the wax and then strained the honey over the weekend. They put the honey in jars and had enough honey for every student to take one home.

Learn more on Education Outside’s Alice Fong Yu School Blog


Contributed by Rachel Pringle, Senior Director of Programs, Education Outside.
Photos by Education Outside Corps Member, Kristin Owyang

San Francisco, CA


Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

Presentation at Occidental College

On May 27th, Green Schoolyards America and Occidental College co-hosted a celebration of Living Schoolyard Month in Los Angeles, CA. The evening included: a presentation by Sharon Danks of vibrant schoolyard examples from around the world; networking time; and a discussion with audience participation about how to create more living schoolyards throughout the LA region. This free public event was attended by a dynamic group of leaders from local school districts, facilities departments, public agencies, nonprofits, and design firms, and engaged teachers, PTA representatives and community members.

The green schoolyard slide presentation given by Sharon Danks at this event was recorded and will be available on our website’s resources page by the end of June.

Please contact us at info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org if you’d like to host a similar event in your region in the future.

Occidental Arts Celebrated Living Schoolyard Month with Dr. Ming Wei Koh

On May 26th, the Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC) invited School Garden, Living Learnscape and Ecological Literacy champions to join us for an evening of celebration of their dedicated service at the Salmon Creek School in Occidental.

Special guest Dr. Ming Wei Koh of the Kohala Center and Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL) shared an international perspective on the role of garden-based learning in living schoolyards around the world. A Montessori educator with her PhD in Sustainability Education, her dissertation is an inspiring reference: Discovering Learning, Discovering Self: the effects of an interdisciplinary, standards-based school garden curriculum on elementary students in Hawai'i.

More information about OAEC’s events can be found here.


Contributed by Vanessa Carter, Resilient Schools Program Director, Occidental Arts & Ecology Center (OAEC)
Photos by Vanessa Carter

Occidental, CA


Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  
—GSA

Rainwater Cistern at Manor Elementary School

Our cistern holds 3,000 gallons of rainwater. We use this water to water our Pollinator garden. We know that we are not using water from [the municipal water department] when we use the water from our cistern. We bring our one-gallon jugs from home to reuse as watering cans. 


Contributed by Laura Dax Honda, Teacher, Manor Elementary School
Photos by Laura Dax Honda

Fairfax, CA


Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

 

Mosaic Mural for Retiring Teacher

In her 5 years as a teacher (13 t Rosa Parks Schoo) in Berkeley, California, Cheri Hinkley expertly mentored her classes of young children while also contributing greatl the greening of Rosa Parks School’s campus and programming. In honor of her retirement this spring, the school community created a special mural that was installed on the school campus as a surprise, at the end of May.

The project was spearheaded by teachers Michelle Contreras and Kathleen Gadway, and included the assistance of first grade students, parents and many others in the school community. The Kids-n-Clay pottery studio in the neighborhood also helped with a portion of the mosaic, by firing a ceramic plaque with a dedication inscription to Cheri.

The mosaic depicts a vibrant school garden with flowers, plants, butterflies, bees and other birds and creatures. It now adorns a wall along the edge of the playground, where children and adults can see it and enjoy it every day.


Contributed by Michelle Contreras
Photos by Sharon Danks and Michael Colombo

Berkeley, CA


Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

Collaboration with Ball State University

Earlier this spring, Sharon Danks (CEO of Green Schoolyards America) had the opportunity to travel to Muncie, Indiana to collaborate with Ball State University’s Department of Landscape Architecture and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Management (NREM). Sharon’s visit helped kick off the concept planning process to reimagine the grounds of Burris Lab School on campus.

She led stakeholder meetings with the school and included the graduate students in the participatory design process with teachers, parents and K-12 students. The Ball State graduate students then used the rich feedback from the school community to propose green schoolyard plans for Burris School.

Bug Hunt in San Francisco

Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

Contributed by Ayesha Ercelawn, Garden and Environmental Science Educator, La Scuola Italian International School. 
Photos by Ayesha Ercelawn.

San Francisco, CA

Our Kindergarten class marked the month of May by surveying their school garden for all the creatures they could find. They organized their bug hunts by a simple habitat classification - what lives in DARK places (under logs, under pots, in the compost bin) compared to in the LIGHT. Worms, centipedes, beetles, and spiders versus ladybugs, butterflies, bees, and wasps were just a few of their exciting finds! 

Big posters helped the children record their finds as a group and reflect later on what lives in each habitat. The children became familiar with how to use terrariums, butterfly nets, and magnifying glasses, while also learning responsibility for putting everything back in its home and putting back the logs as well. 

Meanwhile in class, they spent the month studying metamorphosis, insects versus non-insect classification, and the ecological role of different species. We had a great time and learned a lot! 

Peace Garden started at Pasadena school

Green Schoolyards America is proud to feature Living Schoolyard Month celebrations that were held in May across the state of California. If you celebrated and would like to be featured here, send photos and a brief description to info (at) greenschoolyards (dot) org.  —GSA

New Horizon School (NHS) Pasadena held its “Let’s Get the Garden Started!” Groundbreaking event May 1st to launch its Peace Garden. Mayor Bill Bogaard, in his final year as mayor of Pasadena, spoke at the event which was attended by several members of the Pasadena community as well as the 200 students of the school, parents, faculty, staff and Board members of New Horizon. The morning began with a Garden Launch Assembly followed by a Buddy Walk to the Garden (students in different grade levels paired together), a symbolic Groundbreaking and Student-led Garden Vision Tours.

Inspired by the school’s theme, “Growing Peace One Child at a Time,” the NHS Peace Garden is being established as an outdoor learning space that will cultivate deeper academic learning, spiritual inspiration, interfaith community-building and improved health through four main goals:

  • STEM Proficiency (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math)
  • Environmental Stewardship & Nature Appreciation
  • Healthy Communities 
  • Farm-to-Table produce

Based on contributions of students and faculty during the design phase, unique features of the Peace Garden include:

• Salam Path (a walkway in the form of the Arabic word for peace)
• Peace-by-Piece Mosaic Wall with peace written in different languages
• Friendship Fountain (tiles honor friendships within the community)
• Contemplation Corner (for meditation and prayer)
• Silk Road Herb Garden (connects with 7th Grade World History course)
• Native Plant Garden (teaches students about water conservation)
• Plants from the Qur’an and other holy texts

The school is also inviting local artists to contribute ideas for incorporating art into the garden especially for the Salam Path, the Peace Wall, mosaics for the Friendship Fountain, the entryway, etc.

Other partners in the school’s garden or interfaith programs attended including Weizmann School, Peace and Justice Academy, and Netiya. Gerold Phillips, field rep for Assemblymember Chris Holden, acknowledged the school’s work in environmental stewardship with a special proclamation. Mrs. Azmeralda Alfi, of Aldeen Foundation, benefactor and founder of New Horizon School, participated in the morning’s activities and will be sponsoring one of the garden’s features, the Contemplation Corner. Rhonda Stone, the field representative for the new mayor, Terry Tornek, was in attendance.


Contributed by Iesha Wadala, Garden Coordinator, New Horizon School.
Photos by New Horizon School

Pasadena, CA