Sage Hill students host plant-filled fun

NEWPORT COAST — The weather was perfect and the sun was shining — an ideal day to spend in the garden.

Sage Hill School senior Spenser Apramian stood over a raised planter showing a third-grade student how to use a small stick to plant seeds.

"In each you're going to put a little seed with some water," the 18-year-old said, "and eventually they're going to grow."

About 200 third-graders from Costa Mesa's Killybrooke Elementary School, the Edward B. Cole Sr. Academy and El Sol Science and Arts Academy, both in Santa Ana, took a field trip to the private Newport Coast high school for a lesson at the school's new organic teaching garden.

The younger students rotated around the still-growing garden, learning about plant adaptation and soil composition, and getting their hands dirty planting vegetables, herbs and flowers with freshmen and juniors.

The fledgling garden is getting a major expansion thanks to Apramian, who won the school a nearly $74,000 grant from State Farm.

The garden — created through a service learning project by six Sage Hill students and Savannah's Organic Ranch, an Aliso Viejo-based nonprofit that educates children about organic gardening — will soon feature a fruit orchard and chicken farm, and give the students room for composting and hydroponics.

Apramian, a Newport Beach resident, was inspired to get involved with the garden out of his love for food.

"I just loved food my entire life — not just eating for eating's sake, but that there is a lot of work behind it," he said.

He hopes the garden will help teach kids about how food is made and where it comes from.

Science teacher Lauren Fieberg said the industrialization of the food industry has disconnected children from their food sources.

Sage Hill's freshmen will host local third-graders once a month to supplement the third-graders' science curriculum and get them to start asking questions, she said.

El Sol Academy student Nathan Kadota isn't new to gardening, but his expertise is mainly in pulling weeds.

The 8-year-old said he learned the difference between animals and organisms, and will start thinking about more than that he's just hungry when he eats.

"It will help me realize more where [food] comes from," he said.

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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