A School Garden Goes On Tour!

On Sunday, June 2nd, Pueblo Vista Magnet School was featured on the Bay Friendly Garden Tour. Hosted by the Napa County Resource Conservation District (RCD) for the eighth year in a row, the tour aims to educate the public about how landscape design can minimize resource use.

This past Sunday, over 350 people took part in Napa’s 8th Bay Friendly Garden Tour. Record ticket sales and record total site visits lead to record levels of garden enjoyment and stewardship inspiration.

~Napa County RCD Newsletter

At Pueblo Vista, the school garden is a key component of the environmental science and dual immersion program. Whether role playing beekeepers as kindergarteners or conducting a hummingbird habitat analysis of nectar sources in fourth grade, students engage all their senses in this outdoor classroom.

Complete with fruit trees, plentiful berries, and edible annuals, as well as native plants, bird feeders and a pollinator paradise, the Pueblo Vista garden teaches environmental friendly practices at every turn. This garden boasts many Bay Friendly features on a small scale, including a rain catchment system, working compost bins, permeable hardscape, and wildlife habitat, alongside creative and artistic use of materials.

As a learning garden, students were heavily involved in preparing the garden for tour day. For the entire month of May, fifth graders worked in teams to complete specific tasks, such as planting new plants, building structures, weeding, spreading mulch, and designing signs. It was a great way for them to give back to the campus and create memories before they head off to middle school.

Not only did we have a truly authentic reason to work in the garden, but we built community in the process. Fifth-grade students were not the only ones involved in garden tour preparations. We also hosted a beautification day in early May that invited families to spend a Saturday morning working and playing in the garden. A parent who owns a landscaping business offered a few hours of professional labor and five cubic yards of mulch! Four classroom teachers took precious time away from end-of-year tasks like report cards to greet guests who visited our garden. Even the principal made an appearance as a vote of support and gratitude.

Showcasing a school garden is a great way to garner support for a program that might otherwise suffer from institutional neglect. Few school districts have policies that endorse a set amount of instructional time allocated for garden-based learning and even fewer have a line item in the budget to support school garden materials or staff. Typically, school gardens rank below science or nutrition in the curriculum, which already take a back seat to reading and math instruction. However, parents are often attracted to a school with a garden that enhances academic outcomes, while also beautifying the campus and building positive school culture.

Participating in a public garden tour is a fantastic way to spread the word about a school garden, especially if it also educates the community about sound environmental practice.

For more information about renewable landscape design, visit ReScape.

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