Garden to See Ground Breaking Growth

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B. Denny

Miramonte and Saint Mary's students work hard on the new portion of the garden.

Students walking by the cluster of science classrooms by the tennis courts might be suspicious of the grave-like mounds emerging from the ground. These rectangular plots are the first signs of an expanding garden. The Miramonte garden has been run by AP Environmental Science students and our gardener Alberto Leguizamo since 2008.

Two years ago Miramonte graduate Margot Odell spent time revamping the garden for her Girl Scout Gold award. Her work included making the benches in the middle of the garden, installing sprinklers, and planting a plentiful crop.

“A project of this size and scope would not be possible without the continued support of our Associate Principal, Jan Carlson. Jan has gardening in her genes thanks to her mom, Millie, who is in her 90’s and still is gardening,” science teacher Barbara Denny said.

Senior Lauren Haky organized the first work day for the new part of the garden in mid November. A handful of Miramonte seniors teamed up with Saint Mary’s students to break new ground. In one Saturday, three new beds were dug and ready to be planted with a cover crop of fava beans. As APES students know, fava enriches the soil with nitrogen, an important part of bio-intensive gardening.

However, APES students aren’t the only ones learning how to garden the right way. Global Student Embassy, or GSE, is an organization focused on eco-friendly projects led by students throughout California. The northern California coordinator is Chrissy Orangio. Orangio and other coordinators work with students to further their knowledge on local and international issues and provide a structure to strategize and develop their ideas into a positive change.

“A lot of times in high schools we’re teaching students about all the problems happening in the world, and how the environment is suffering, but we’re not giving them the opportunity to solve these issues,” Orangio said. “GSE gives students a positive place to put their energy, and inspires them to take control of their own projects.”

Students get to design the gardens themselves and facilitate work days, teaching valuable leadership skills. Future work days for the garden are being planned to dig beds out of the remaining plot after winter break.

“My goal for the new part of the garden is for more students to become involved and to continue expanding into new areas,” Haky said.

Thanks to both past and present Miramonte students and staff, the garden is a welcoming area to visit and contribute to.

As opposed to the old part of the garden, where students and staff are welcomed to harvest from the raised beds, these newer and bigger beds should produce enough to give back to the community. GSE uses White Pony Express, a local community service program designed to bring fresh produce to people in need the day it is harvested.

This program is used at Acalanes and Campolindo, after discovering that donations to the Contra Costa Food Bank are not as useful due to its need for mass amounts of produce.