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. With our CA grown fresh grant we have installed a greenhouse, chicken coop, outdoor learning center and an 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. We have established the North Fork Harvest with Master Gardner Tina Brown as our program coordinator and strive to teach our children the importance of growing their own food and the steps to do that.
During the most recent school year, we obtained the assistance and leadership of another 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, we have started planting native plants and expect to begin a community lecture series.