The garden at YES Charter Academy got its start with our school’s original charter and now holds a central place in our curriculum. Every class takes its turn sowing, growing, and reaping, and every class learns how important the soil is in making human life possible. The garden is a hands-on laboratory where students learn where life comes from and how the earth renews itself.Our first major successes in the garden began to occur in 2010. Our eight-foot fence went up, we served our first homegrown salads at school lunches, and we found volunteers to keep our plants alive during summer. In 2011, we provided a month of salads for student lunches and planted a permanent kitchen garden bed, along with beds of lettuce, radishes, and other salad specialties.
Of special importance during the most recent school year, we obtained the assistance and leadership of a certified California master gardener, who offered lectures, demonstrations, and experiments incorporating students of all ages. Students designed their own trellises, learned how to make compost, and studied soil composition. They also planted two-dozen garden beds, tended them, and had a completely successful harvest by the final days of the spring term. It seemed like every student looked forward to gardening, rain or shine.
During the past year, YES Charter Academy also obtained the assistance of a California Native Plants Society specialist in education and community gardens. With her guidance during the coming year, we will be planting additional native plants and expect to begin a community lecture series.