Category Archives: School Garden News

School Garden Volunteers

Let’s face it, every school needs volunteers, the more the better. For school garden help, first place I would look is your own student body. Getting just one student to commit to irrigation or weeding on some type of schedule is huge. Second place I would look is the parent organization. Send an email to your base and tell them your needs.  You will not get any help unless you ask for it. Third place is your community. Use your neighborhood councils to gain access to your local homeowner associations. Send them an announcement as well. Last and best place is your local Master Gardener office. They supply the technical expertise you require to succeed.

In Los Angeles, you would fill out the form below and send it to Yvonne Savio, head of the UC Cooperative Extension’s Common Ground Garden Program. Her email is ydsavio@ucdavis.edu

REQUEST FOR MASTER GARDENER TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

Please fill out the form below and email back to me. I’ll forward to the Master Gardener volunteers, and anyone who’s interested will contact you directly. Be sure to include a lot of detail in the “Help Requested” section so MGs can determine whether their skills match your needs! And, be aware that Master Gardeners advise and instruct but don’t do labor. Also, most MGs already have their own volunteer projects, so may not be available.

Day and Date — for example, Saturday, June 14, 2010
Time — for example, 10am-12noon
Activity Name — for example, Baldwin Hills Garden Club meeting
Sponsoring Group — for example, Baldwin Hills Garden Club
Location Address — for example, Baldwin Hills Branch Library, 2906 S. La Brea Avenue, LA 90016
Help Requested (provide lots of detail) — for example, Seasonal Vegetable Gardening Presentation
Anticipated Attendance (so we bring enough handouts) – for example, 50 adults
Contact — for example, Yvonne Savio
Contact Phone and Email — for example, 323-260-3407, ydsavio@…

Historical Society’s Sixth Annual Garden Party & Tour to Benefit School Greening

Photo by Mary E. Nichols

LOS ANGELES – The Windsor Square Hancock Park Historical Society’s sixth annual Garden Party & Tour will take place April 17, 2011. The tour encompasses the neighborhoods north of Wilshire Boulevard to Melrose Avenue, between Highland and Van Ness Avenues. This is a unique opportunity to see some of the oldest and most elegantly landscaped private properties in Los Angeles. Of special note is the tour’s dinner and silent auction at Getty House, the official residence of the Mayor of Los Angeles.

Proceeds from this event are dedicated to continuing substantial greening work at LAUSD’s John Burroughs Middle School, and extending the beautification efforts along Wilshire Boulevard at McCadden Place.

The tour will be held in honor of Cindy Chvatal-Keane for her contributions to this historic neighborhood and the city of Los Angeles. Cindy is President of the Hancock Park Homeowners Association, est. 1948. She cofounded the Hancock Park Historic Preservation Advocacy Group and was a key player in the establishment of a Historic Preservation Overlay Zone (HPOZ) to protect the character of Hancock Park. She is a member of the Executive Committee of the California Science Center and is an Executive Producer of the acclaimed television series CSI.

The highlight of this year’s tour are the historic Ronnie Allumbaugh Gardens at Getty House, created in 1928 by renowned garden designer A.E. Hanson. They include the sunken “Blue” Garden and the Rose Garden, which were restored in 2010 and are rarely available for viewing by the general public.

The Historical Society’s Garden Party raised more than $30,000 for greening at John Burroughs Middle School in 2010. Additional funds were raised from business and community groups, including the Hancock Park Homeowners Association est. 1948 and Walt Disney Pictures. As a result, the front of the school was completely transformed, with new irrigation, hardscape, benches and plantings. Funds from the 2011 tour will extend the work south along McCadden Place, and turn the corner onto Wilshire Boulevard along the south end of the campus.

The 2008 and 2009 tours raised more than $30,000 for the creation of outdoor garden classroom planters, numerous fountains and a 3D sensory wall mural at the Frances Blend School Special Education Center (LAUSD), serving visually impaired children with multiple handicaps. Additional funds and support were provided by the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council and Paramount Pictures.

In 2007, $13,000 raised from the tour was allocated toward the installation and planting of landscaped traffic islands on Wilton Place, a busy street in the neighborhood. This endowment enabled complete funding of the project by the City of Los Angeles, and our funds were returned. They were reallocated to a greening project at LAUSD’s Wilshire Crest School and a bronze plaque at Robert Burns Park.

The inaugural year of the tour was 2006, and the Historical Society raised $10,000, which was donated to the City of Los Angeles toward developing a green median on Larchmont Boulevard just north of Beverly Boulevard.

Getty House serves as the beginning and end of this wonderful afternoon. At check-in, attendees will obtain programs with a map indicating the addresses of all the private gardens, which are not revealed until the day of the tour. Getty House is also the site of an afternoon lecture, “Organic Container Gardening,” by Jo Anne Trigo of Two Dog Organic Nursery.

Attendees are advised to wear flat shoes, and to bring hats and sunglasses.

Following the tour, all attendees are invited to return to Getty House for a light supper, a spectacular silent auction and a presentation to this year’s honoree.

Tickets to the event are $55 each and can be purchased online at www.wshphs.org or by mail from:

WSHPHS Garden Tour
137 N. Larchmont Blvd., #135
Los Angeles, CA 90004
Tel: 213-243-8182

Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation

New Village Press has published Sharon Gamson Danks’ Asphalt to Ecosystems, an illuminating guidebook for designing and building creative, ecologically diverse schoolyards and integrating nature into learning and play activities across K-12 curricula. With a wealth of practical advice and over 500 color photographs, Sharon Danks offers a fully illustrated, easy-to-understand guide for transforming the traditional school ground’s slab of asphalt into edible gardens, wildlife habitats, and other sustainable uses.

Using real-life examples from over 150 schools in 11 countries, Danks takes readers on a tour of successful green schoolyards emerging from vastly different climates and sensibilities: a permaculture project with fruit trees, vegetables, chickens, an apiary, and outdoor cooking facilities; wilderness habitats with prairie grasses and ponds, or forest and desert ecosystems; schoolyard watershed models, rainwater catchment systems and waste-water treatment wetlands; renewable energy systems; and waste-as-a-resource projects that give new life to old materials in beautiful ways.

Along the way, Danks includes K-12 curriculum ideas offering creative connections to a wide range of disciplines from the sciences to the humanities, evincing the many benefits and applications of designing and building green schoolyards: experiential learning opportunities that deepen students’ understanding of abstract concepts; play-based solutions to the problem of childhood obesity; and opportunities for social and emotional development through the cooperative, problem-solving activities involved in both the participatory design process and the maintenance of the green space.

The book’s abundant illustrations and stories show readers  how ecological schoolyards can improve students’ classroom performance, increase selfesteem, better lifestyle practices, and instill in young students a much-needed sense of environmental stewardship.

With this handbook to guide the planning, design, and implementation process, educators, parents, students, designers, and environmental activists will see the potential for redesigning under-utilized schoolyard spaces to cultivate richer learning and play experiences.

About the Author
Sharon Gamson Danks is an environmental planner and the founding partner of Bay Tree Design, a Berkeley-based landscape architecture and planning firm. A frontrunner in the green schoolyards movement, Danks has visited and documented more than 200 green schoolyards and parks in North America, Scandinavia, Great Britain, Europe, and Japan, and has facilitated the master-planning for dozens of ecological schoolyards. Sharon is currently working with the San Francisco Unified School District on a groundbreaking green schoolyard program, and serves on the national board for the
Community Built Association, as well as the advisory board of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance. She is the lead-author of the Green Schoolyard Resource Directory for the San Francisco Bay Area; a contributor to Landscape Architecture Magazine, Orion, and Green Teacher; and co-designer of the Sustainable Schoolyard exhibit displayed at the U.S. Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C. in 2008.

About New Village Press

New Village Press is a public-benefit publisher specializing in works about grassroots community building, urban ecology, and community cultural development. The press publishes progressive non-fiction that offers useful solutions to critical social, environmental and economic challenges. It is a division of the national non-profit organization, Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility.

Twitter + School Gardens = #SchoolGardenChat

Twitter may not be as popular as Facebook, but for school gardens Twitter is an indispensable tool. With over 175 million users generating over 65 million tweets a day one cannot ignore the networking benefits that Twitter offers.

For the uninitiated, Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service enabling users to send and receive messages called tweets. Tweets are text-based posts of up to 140 characters that are displayed on the user’s profile page.

Recently, real-time chat among twitter users has become a popular way for followers of a particular topic to meet, exchange ideas, and make new friends.

On Thursday Feb 10th, at 6:00PM PST
and every Thursday thereafter
School Garden Weekly (@SGWeekly) and
School Garden Guru Mud Baron (@Cocoxochitl)
will be hosting a 1-hour school garden chat on Twitter.
We invite each and every one of you to attend.

To access you will need to do the following:

1) Become a member of Twitter if you are not already. Membership is free. For support help, see Twitter basics.

2) At the specified time, enter #schoolgardenchat (with hashtag #) in the search window and voila, the conversation will unfold before you. If you’re not familiar with the use of hashtags see Twitter Support: What are Hashtags?

3) When posting remember to include #schoolgardenchat at the end of your post to insure it appears in the chat queue, otherwise we won’t see it.

What to Bring to the Party:
1) Tell us about your school garden.
2) What are your top 3 challenges?
3) Share your resources and knowledge.

Join the conversation.  Join us for #schoolgardenchat

NEA’s Green Across America School Garden Funding – 7/30 deadline

Engage and inspire your K-12 students to increase sustainable, earth-friendly behavior in their neighborhoods and communities.

NEA’s Green Across America grants of up to $1,000 are available to help you implement your innovative education program, activity, lesson or event to excite students about going green, caring for the earth and creating a sustainable future.

The Green Across America Program is sponsored by Target, which proudly supports K-12 schools through innovative giving programs.

How to Apply
Click the “Apply Now” link to begin the online application.

The application must be completed in one session. You will not be able to save your responses and return to them later.

If you would like to prepare your application responses before beginning the online application, you can download a Grant Application Worksheet (.doc, 386K). The worksheet contains all the application questions to help you plan and write your responses. Please note: Only online grant applications will be accepted for this program.

All applications must be submitted online by July 30, 2010.
Please see the complete rules for details.

Venice HS Learning Garden

Gardens evolve. All gardens, school or otherwise, season to season, year to year, they grow, they change, and with the proper care, they prosper.  The “Learning Garden” at Venice High School has been evolving and prospering for more than 15 years.


Back in 1995 horticulture/landscape teacher Diane Pollock “inherited” a weed-ridden one acre property that was more home to feral cats and vagrants than it was to living plants. In collaboration with Garden Master David King and numerous community volunteers they have created one of the show-piece school gardens in America.


Today, the students are enriched by the various gardens that surround them. There’s a Chinese Herb and Medicinal Plant Garden, a Mediterranean Garden, a Fruit Orchard, a Rose Demonstration Garden, a Grape Arbor, and the U.C.L.A. Ornamental Garden.


A California native plant section has been lovingly created and cared for by Christine Walker.


Agricultural plots are tended to for organic vegetables. Compost piles teach sustainability.

One exciting recent development is the Culinary Arts and Sustainable Agriculture Academy (CASAA) created by teacher Tina Gruen. This new venture takes the garden a giant step forward by developing a complete “farm to fork” concept.  Students not only grow their food, but are taught how to prepare it as well. The entire process from seed to table can now be experienced first hand.

The Learning Garden’s famous potuck lunches on Fridays just got a whole lot tastier!

Westminster School Garden Keeps on Growing

Nora Dvosin and Nancy Giffin began the Westminster Elementary School Garden (WE Garden) in Venice, CA in 2004/05. Amid a sea of asphalt they have doggedly carved themselves a thriving oasis.

The WE garden has grown over the years tripling its original size and now includes a new kindergarten area complete with flowering pear trees that will be espaliered along the fence.

The organic learning garden is fully integrated into student/classroom curriculum including: art, science, social science, language, history, & math.

For example, the colonial garden not only teaches history but replicates a colonial era kitchen garden with the same plants and herbs that were grown at that time.

Students are also able to participate in a “seed-to-table” experience through a partnership with long time Los Angeles chef (and school neighbor), Joe Miller of Joe’s Restaurant on Abbot Kinney.

In exchange for cooking classes that Joe performs in the garden, the WE garden dedicates one bed to Joe’s Restaurant and grows whatever Chef decides. Currently there are Okinowan spinach, Caribbean thyme, 3 different kinds of peppers, and a feathery cilantro variety.

School never tasted so good.