Mar 31, 2015
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After planting the seeds, local students are getting to watch their gardens grow.

The budding garden program at Richmond’s Mira Vista School will further flourish thanks to a $1,500 grant from Jamba Juice, officials said.

Jamba Juice plans to present the grant at an award ceremony at the school at 1:00 p.m. Thursday. From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day, the school will have a garden work party, where students, parents and Jamba Juice employees will work together in the school’s two gardens.

Mira Vista’s gardens feature a variety of vegetable beds and more than 30 fruit trees. The gardens, established in 2001, are financially supported by the school’s Parent–Teacher Association and operated by a volunteer committee of parents and teachers.

Thirty-nine schools in the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) use gardens as tools of instruction. The garden program allows “outdoor classroom experiences to synchronize with the Common Core curriculum,” officials said in a statement.

Since 2009, Jamba Juice has awarded more than 200 school garden grants nationwide, with another 30 expected this spring.

“As a teacher, there is nothing I find more rewarding than watching my students come alive in the garden,” said Graciella Rossi, who works at Mira Vista and is also a charter member of West County Developing Instructional Gardens in Schools (DIGS).

Rossi added, “In the garden we make connections with the curriculum, we celebrate and gain respect for nature and each other, and we love eating salads because we grew them,” Rossi said.

Mira Vista Principal Gabriel Chilcott promotes the school gardens as outdoor classrooms.

“Especially as we explore the new Common Core standards’ focus on depth of knowledge and deep understanding of core concepts, the gardens are a wonderful resource,” Chilcott said. “All grades have access to the gardens and chancing upon kindergarteners drawing and cataloging plants, or middle schoolers exploring Mendelian genetics and scientific graphing, speaks to the power of utilizing gardens to enhance education. We are very fortunate at Mira Vista to partner with the PTA to obtain grants like this one to fund tools, seeds, plants and many other items to keep our students engaged with nature.”

For information, visit websites for the school and its garden program.


About the Author

Mike Aldax is the editor of the Richmond Standard. He has 13 years of journalism experience, most recently as a reporter for the San Francisco Examiner. He previously held roles as reporter and editor at Bay City News, Napa Valley Register, Garden Island Newspaper in Kaua’i, and the Queens Courier in New York City.