Garden Promotes Greener Miramonte


Youngjoo Ahn, Staff Writer

Every year, the environmental crisis is proving to be more severe. Winters in the East Coast, Michigan and Chicago have reached the temperature of Mars at night. Droughts are plaguing food industries in California and Mexico and floods and tornadoes are taking over the south and midwest. However, dealing with a huge crisis is best done by changing small, daily habits.

We’ve all heard the trite tips such as take shorter showers, turn off the lights, and bike to close locations.  Instead of passive repetition of things students already know, Miramonte has made a serious effort to be more environmentally friendly. The hydration station and compost bins are just a couple of the steps the student body and administration have taken in the past year.

“There has been a lot of progress recently but there are a lot of basic things we can do,” senior and member of the Environmental Club Andie Tuemmler said. “Littering is something simple that could be changed if people cared enough to walk the extra five steps to a trash can. Environmental Club’s next big project is trying to get solar panels.”

However, the Environmental Club is not the only group on campus making a small step towards a greener Miramonte.  AP Environmental Science (APES) takes part in a yearly project to increase awareness for and help the environment and community at Miramonte. APES teacher Barbara Denny started the garden in 2007 when she received a Cal grant to encourage school gardens. The gardens have always been a student run development that started with a WISE project.

“The goal of this project is to rededicate the garden to a natural setting,” Denny said. “We’re trying to sustain the gardens because giving this opportunity to students is so important. How often do students get to take part in harvest?”

Working on the garden is an annual project that students from APES as well as the Environmental Club take part in. Boy and Girl Scouts regularly help out with building garden structures or designing the layout. Everything from flowers to all sorts of vegetables and fruits are grown with integrated pest management. Not only do the plants give nitrogen back to the soil, but students also hand pull weeds, use mulch, and minimize pesticides.

“The garden is a great tradition of APES. It allows us to use what we’ve learned in class and apply it,” junior Cole Wirtz said.
However, Denny and APES students have also run into a few challenges over the years. Gophers and the intense heat are just a couple examples of the daily battles APES students endure.

“We’ve been having a problem with the electricity. When the electricity got cut off because of garden structures, students have had to hand water. We’re trying to put the drip system back in place to save water,” Denny said. “We’ve received tremendous support from Vice Principal Jan Carlson to address these problems.”

With hard work always comes pleasant rewards. After every harvest, the food goes towards the enjoyment of the Miramonte community or the Contra Costa food bank.

“Right now there is a laundry basket full of fava beans in the admin office for anyone’s taking,” Denny said.

“My favorite part is taking the fava beans home. I mean, they’re enormous,” junior Elliot Fong said.