Cultivating young gardeners

Spinach may not be a fan favorite among school-aged children, but at Oster Elementary School in San José, students are not only working on appreciating the taste of this leafy vegetable, but also how to grow it.

Last month, Oster Elementary School celebrated its campus’s newest addition with its first community garden which will double as an outdoor classroom. The project was awarded $5,000 as part of the Santa Clara Valley Water District’s mini-grants program. The new community garden on campus will offer current and future students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience related to classroom concepts like water conservation, healthy nutrition, and stewardship of natural resources.

Oster Elementary School strives to enrich students with a learning experience that emphasizes community, nourishes and cultivates initiative and responsibility, engages students in service activities, and develops good citizens by fostering care for others. The recently completed outdoor classroom matches the school’s objectives perfectly by establishing a community environment where students can develop responsibility in caring for native plants, vegetables and fruits while encouraging and helping each other maintain their community garden.

Rebecca Taylor, a teacher at Oster Elementary School, led the project by developing a comprehensive workplan to make the garden a reality. Ms. Taylor worked with local landscapers to install efficient irrigation. She also worked hard to build the outdoor seating area for students by hosting “Volunteer Work Days,” where community members donated their time and materials. On Oct. 20, the whole school community, including parents, volunteers and local community members, celebrated a grand opening of the school’s first garden — just in time for fall. Students will have a rich experience sowing this autumn so that they can enjoy the beauty of their hard work come spring.

The mini-grant program application period is now open with a total of $200,000 in funding available. Applicants may apply for up to $5,000 per project. To learn more about the mini-grants program, visit our grants website.




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