New School Garden at Alta Vista School Finds a Place in the Community
by Melody Kasulis
On a Saturday afternoon, families from Alta Vista School could be found pushing wheel barrels, shoveling, and making signs at Alta Vista’s “Work Party in the Garden.” The independent, co-ed K-8 school in San Francisco launched their new school garden with a community work-day. Lindsey Goldberg, the Sustainability Lead at Alta Vista, and fellow garden party organizer Jane Mauchly, created a range of activities that included produce sign painting, filling planter boxes with compost, making “zero-waste” snacks and photographing the event. Lindsey is already a veteran when it comes to organizing garden parties. She helped create a rooftop garden at Glide, on Ellis Street in San Francisco. “It’s a great example of place-based transformation,” says Lindsey, and an opportunity for parents and students to come together for a day of shared learning and physical activity.
Alta Vista’s curriculum is grounded in scientific method and emphasizes science, math and technology. AVS also uses experience-based learning and incorporates social development and play into its curriculum. It makes sense that AVS would create a school garden, as the space provides a bounty of hands-on learning potential while promoting collaborative work between classmates and communities, through events like “garden work parties.” Garden classrooms are becoming increasingly popular at schools nationwide. Many initiatives such as American Heart Association’s Teaching Gardens and Let’s Move are tackling the problem of childhood obesity by providing holistic programs and resources on eating healthy, exercise, and gardening. The school garden is a space for students to learn about the environment, nutrition and can even be used to enrich other subjects such as science and math. It really sounds as good as it is- an outdoor classroom that garners a better appreciation for the environment and health while making learning more exciting.
If not for its educational benefits, Alta Vista’s school garden also allows parents to get involved and help out in a community setting. Alesha Bishop, whose son Henry attends AVS, headed over Saturday with her mom and son to volunteer. The event is part of a “service-based” activity component of AVS’s curriculum. “It was amazing to see all the people that came out to help,” says Alesha, who helped paint signs and photo document the event. “There’s art, gardening, and lots of fun.” Alesha always knew Alta Vista was special and originally chose the school because of its small size and project-based learning. It is an added bonus that the school has such a supportive community and initiatives to parents getting involved in their child’s academic space, “If you haven’t done something like this with your child I highly recommend you do. It was a wonderful time for our whole family.”