Daily High students gained approval from the Glendale school board this week to build a garden that will grow fruit trees and vegetables to sell to school officials and fuel the school’s bistro program.
Among the students who pitched the idea to board members was Francisco Valdivia, who said he wasn’t concerned with environmental issues when he enrolled at the school.
“When I first got here, I didn’t really care about the environment, to be honest, coming from a teenager. I learned I was wrong, and that we should really be…taking care of the Earth because it is our home,” he said.
School board members overwhelmingly supported the project with member Christine Walters admitting that the garden’s location at the front of school district’s headquarters “can certainly use a bit of a face-lift,” she said.
Daily High is located on Kenwood Street, north of Wilson Avenue, and is next to the district headquarters, which faces Jackson Street.
The day after the school board approved the project, Daily High teacher Antonia Piscitelli-Carrasco and several students tore up ivy and cleared the area of fallen fruit off the Ginkgo trees. Students already had holes in their cotton gloves at the end of the day, Piscitelli-Carrasco said.
Daily High officials and students estimate it will cost $25,000 to start the garden, which will have four citrus trees. They’re seeking sponsorships and donations to purchase items such as a wheelbarrow, tools, a shed, fencing — and more gloves.
If residents or businesses wanted to unload unwanted tools or other items, Piscitelli-Carrasco said she would stop by “with a car-load of kids and come pick them up.”
The idea to build the garden came from a handful of instructors at Daily High who teach art, English, culinary arts and science.
It was student Alexis Oliveras’ idea to name the garden “A Second Chance to Grow,” which will also feature a mural with the same theme.
The students plan for the garden to feature picnic tables and a pond, creating a place that would give school officials at the district headquarters a place to relax and eat lunch.
Meanwhile, students will also sell their harvest on a regular basis to school employees and use the fruit and vegetables in their own cooking classes on campus.
Piscitelli-Carrasco said the garden has already become a reason for many students to get excited about going to classes at the continuation school, where they are recovering credits and often facing academic or personal challenges.
At first, she said, they were apathetic about how adults outside of the school could help, particularly the school board, to whom the students presented the garden plans on Tuesday with a formal PowerPoint presentation and question-and-answer session.
“We’re showing them every day that they make a difference if they take responsibility,” Piscitelli-Carrasco said. “For the continuation high students, that’s a very import message.”
For information about how to donate to the Daily High School garden, email Piscitelli-Carrasco at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan.