A great big thanks to volunteers from Google who worked hard on a hot day to clear huge amounts of weeds, including Bermuda grass, from 25 planter boxes at Castlemont Elementary School in Campbell. Their volunteer project will allow Living Classroom to use many of these beds for their lessons in the new school year along with other school use.
And the next day, SAP volunteers weed whacked and pulled weeds which were crowding out the native plants at the Science Resource Center Native Habitat Garden used by Hoover School students. Now we will follow up with sheet mulching and planting additional native plants in the fall.
Living Classroom is once again providing fun, enriching and educational activities for 300 students enrolled in the Mountain View Whisman School District's summer school. We are providing four activities for each class in grades 1-6 and special needs classes as well.
Below are photos from the Building a Hugel Mound project for 4th graders. The Hugel Mound is made of branches, leaves, soil and other organic materials which demonstrate water infiltration to reduce storm water runoff, and also decomposition. The process helps to improve soil fertility and soil warming and benefits plants grown on or near the mounds.
Students planted small native plants as the last step in completing their mounds and to celebrate released ladybugs which are wonderful beneficial insects. Two students were delighted to have them land on their hands!
Through a joint project of Living Classroom and Canopy, students, teachers, parents and neighbors of Crittenden Middle School in Mountain View can enjoy a new native habitat garden! The Native Habitat Garden will be used for Next Generation Science aligned lessons for students and native plant landscaping in other areas of the campus will not only be beautiful and water conserving, but also attract native wildlife.
On Saturday, May 5th, 120 volunteers from SEWA USA, a nonprofit service organization, Google, and Crittenden school parents and students came together to plant approximately 200 hundred trees, shrubs, perennials and groundcovers on the campus including five California native oak trees. They also installed several dozen posts for plant signs, and sheet mulched all the planting areas. Prior and following the community work day, the Maniglia Landscape Company, through the California Landscape Contractors Association San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, donated their time, materials, expertise and equipment to install the pathway, contour the soil, and install the irrigation. Finishing touches including special interpretive signs will be installed in the coming weeks.
We are thrilled to announce that Living Classroom will be expanding its programming to the Campbell Union Elementary School District (CUSD)! Thanks to a grant from the Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority, and additional anticipated grants, Living Classroom will be launching a K-3 program at six schools within the District where we will provide up to 400 lessons and build at least three new gardens. Depending on the final funding, we will be able to provide our impactful garden-based experiences to close to 1,500 CUSD students.
CUSD has made a significant commitment to support environmental literacy through its work with ChangeScale and is one of only four school districts in the Bay Area to develop an environmental literacy plan. Part of the plan includes the “Champions for Change” program which focuses on agriculture, watershed protection and human impacts on the environment. Living Classroom is honored to play an important role in the implementation of CUSD’s environmental literacy plan.
We anticipate, if funding allows, that Living Classroom will grow in subsequent years to potentially serve all 7,500 students at CUSD, an ethnically diverse school district with schools in Campbell, San Jose, and Saratoga, and where almost half of the student body qualify for free or reduced lunch.
We’ll keep you posted on our launching of this new program!
BRINGING NATURE HOME
“RESTORING NATURE ONE GARDEN AT A TIME: HOW TREES AND NATIVE PLANTS ARE KEY TO BRINGING BACK OUR BIRDS, BUTTERFLIES, AND ENTIRE ECOSYSTEMS"
Thursday, May 31st
7:00 – 8:30 p.m.
Mountain View Senior Center
266 Escuela Ave, Mountain View, CA 94040
Free workshop, open to the community
Living Classroom founder, Vicki Moore, will present research from the recent California Native Plant Society conference that has major implications on the way we look at trees, plants, gardens, and landscaping. Special emphasis will be made on what each of us can do to bring back our local ecology at our own homes. Easy-to-use online references will be shared so attendees will have the tools to create their own native habitat gardens.
Living Classroom has been installing two new interpretive signs at its school native habitat gardens. Funded through grants from the Palo Alto Garden Club and Los Altos Kiwanis Club, one sign focuses on the importance of planting native milkweed as a critical host plant for the Monarch Butterfly as part of its western migratory route, while the other informs about the importance of planting native plants that attract pollinators and the important services pollinators provide. Thanks to designer Patricia Campbell for her generous donation of her time and talent to produce these beautiful signs.
Second grade students from the Mountain View Whisman School district have been introduced to the world of Citizen Science this past fall, documenting their observations of native flora and fauna on their own school grounds. By using iNaturalist, a mobile app developed by the California Academy of Science on their tablets provided through Living Classroom, students upload photos and species identification to the broad scientific community which is collecting data on biodiversity and species populations from around the world. Let’s help develop a new generation of scientists by starting at an early age, teaching children how science can help solve many pressing problems our world faces.
Living Classroom is excited to bring our outdoor programming to Addison Elementary School this year.
With the help of the Palo Alto School District, the new edible garden was installed this summer and lessons are already underway. Students will start the year off by filling the beds with edibles such as kale, spinach, turnips and carrots, to be harvested later this season and made into nutritious soups and salads. In addition, second graders will be sowing their winter wheat over the next few weeks, and enjoy watching the tiny seeds sprout and grow into majestic stalks, as they learn about life cycles, producers and consumers. Look for the wheat as you pass by the school, growing in the beds along the fence on Addison Ave.
Next month will bring the installation of the new Living Classroom Native Garden. This garden, designed by Living Classroom staff, and installed with school district and community support, will become an outdoor laboratory, where students can learn about native plants and observe local wildlife without leaving their school campus.
Both gardens will support the hands-on, nature-based lessons for the first through fifth grades, new this year at Addison School.
MVWSD’s Food and Nutrition Services, in partnership with Living Classroom, recently earned a “Grow” honorable mention Golden Seed award from the California Farm to School Network (CFSN) for doing excellent ‘farm to school’ work.
The award recognizes the District’s partnership with Living Classrooms on the “Farm to Lunch” program that combines the hands-on experience of growing food with the health benefits of better eating. Students from the Beyond the Bell after school program plant vegetables in more than 20 raised planter beds across several MVWSD schools, including Crittenden and Theuerkauf. The District also gets a delivery every Friday from a local farmer who is a member of Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). This local- and school-grown produce is featured in tasty dishes several times a month on menus at all schools.