An update on the Davidson Middle School Garden. Our centential project has come a long way.
Dear Friends of the Garden,
This year was another step of progress for the Green Schoolyard program of Davidson Middle School. Our aim from the beginning has been to create a Garden where students can learn about the natural world, nurture living things, and reap the earth's bounty. In line with this mission, we keep expanding the Garden's boundaries into surrounding areas -- removing invasive weeds and infusing an ever richer variety of herbs, flowers, and shrubs.
An especially exciting moment came when the graduating 8th grade class made a gift of $500 to the school for purchase of fruit trees to go into the Haven -- an enclosure planned behind the Woodshop, where our current project began in 2004.
The report below highlights the major areas of activity for school year 2008-09. Don't forget our upcoming Garden Work Day with the Conservation Corps North Bay (Project Regeneration): Tuesday, August 4. Project Regeneration participants will help with a variety of tasks from 9:30 am to 2:00 pm. Join us for an hour or more on either of these days.
Classes in the Garden
* After occasional visits to the Garden in the fall, 6th grade science classes had a series of lessons this spring led by Next Generation garden educator Marijanna Shurtz. Teachers Bob Olson-Brown and Therese Hopkins helped their students plant seeds in their classrooms; many of those seeds are now thriving in the Garden.
* Kimberly Pearson brought her 12 SDC students to the Garden all spring, as often as four days a week. They explored, planted, and tended the growing crops of spring.
* Josh Powell held drawing classes in the Garden to enliven his students' palette of possibilities.
* Laura Edelen shared Poetry in the Garden with her 6th grade Core classes. This is the third year in which the Garden has been used as a place of poetic inspiration, and we look forward to many more.
Habitat Restoration
The Conservation Corps has achieved major reductions in broom, fennel, and cottoneaster. Yet to subdue: English ivy and pampas grass. This summer we continue this progress. We are pleased, too, that the Bay Institute has taken interest in our "Riparian Zone." They have proposed a grant to complete the removal of invasives, plant native shrubs and trees (including some to shade the Band Room, reducing energy costs and carbon emissions), and possibly even restore stream flow by re-connecting to the original slough. Whatever measure of these dreams we realize, we'll see a visible improvement to the look of this still too-desolate area of campus.
The proliferation of plastic litter on campus -- by students, sports groups, and passersby -- is the antithesis of everything the Garden is about. This year a team of students, parents, and staff worked together to move the campus closer to Zero Litter and Zero Waste. On October 10, Algalita Marine researchers Anna Cummins and Marcus Eriksen spoke to the assembled student body and showed pictures, videos, and actual relics from their travels across the Pacific Ocean to Hawaii.
I was impressed by how many students seemd to resonate with the message of reducing litter and reducing waste. Two boys came up after one presentation to describe how they had personally helped extract wildlife -- one, a seabird, the other, a baby seal -- from plastic tangles.
We are not done with this project, but progress has been made. When I showed pictures of Davidson litter spots from Sep 06, such as the one below, very few of the students said they had seen it look that trashed this year.
Many thanks to Claire Brosnan, Sami Mericle, and Linnea Schurig, for their work as student representatives on the Committee to End Litter. We will miss them next year, but feel confident that they will continue showing leadership in community improvement at San Rafael High.
Enrichment for us all
Two films that you might like to see:
1. Food, Inc. Cinematically gorgeous, this film tells the story of how industrialized agriculture has overtaken our economy, and the high costs of "cheap" food. The film will confirm every gardener's instinct that you have, and may spur even further rethinking of your purchasing habits. You may also be inspired to start saving your bean seeds for the next year's planting. The film, a must see, shows at least through the 16th at the Rafael Theatre.
2. A Man Named Pearl. An unlikely title for an unlikely topic, topiary! This film chronicles the dedication of a man who, by transforming his property with breathtaking topiary, created a place of unusual beauty, improved racial relations in his southern town, and became an inspirational figure to young and old. We rented this film from Netflix, and it's likely available elsewhere.
Here's wishing you all joy in gardening, eating, and conserving the earth's richness!