Clubs Earn Distinction in Garden Project


Youth and Government member Amberlee Kaiser removes old plants from the garden. Kaiser, along with other Youth and Government members, worked on the garden to complete community service requirements.

Sarada Symonds, Editor-in-Chief

Diablo Valley Youth and Government members joined the Global Student Embassy (GSE) in the campus garden during 7th period and after school on October 30. Youth and Government delegates are working to complete 1.5 hours of community service to qualify as a “Delegation of Distinction,” which requires interaction with their community and other delegations.

Senior Spencer Nichols, Sergeant at Arms of the Youth and Government delegation and co-president of the GSE, encouraged his fellow delegates to join him and the GSE in order to complete their service requirements. “It’s a good way for people to know the garden. This is a lot of people’s first time coming out here,” he said. Nichols also felt that it was good for people to learn more about the project. “It’s been good getting some more exposure,” he said.

Junior Sharon Maher enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the event. “I’ve always wanted to see what the garden is like because I remember [chemistry teacher Patrick] Wildermuth getting excited about it last year,” she said.

Each week, the GSE, Environmental Club, and other volunteers help manage the garden by taking care of the plants, harvesting food for the Contra Costa Food Bank, and performing other maintenance tasks. According to GSE ambassador Mallory Bressler, the students recently built scarecrows to protect the crops.

Bressler added that the garden takes a lot of work. “This is about a quarter of an acre, so it’s a pretty big piece of land to manage,” she said. Students are also working on “saving seeds,” which they will then plant next year. “The idea is that this is an organic farm and it is actually self-sustainable, so the hope is that in a few years, we won’t have to buy anything from out side the garden itself,” she said.

Youth and Government students helped out with crop rotation, which requires germinating new seeds, painting signs, and taking out plants that are at the end of their life and turning them into compost piles. Then, students will plant a new winter crop. Over the summer, GSE grew a variety of plants, including watermelon, squash, pumpkins, and tomatoes. Winter crops include lettuce, garlic, potatoes, and broccoli, according to Bressler.

The crops are based on the needs of the Contra Costa Food Bank. “The food bank really needs lettuce and leafy greens in general. We’ve been asking the food bank what their biggest needs are and then been trying to grow what it is that they need,” she said.

According to Bressler, one of the main benefits of the garden is that the food all goes to the Contra Costa Food Bank. “So far, we have donated about 700 pounds of food,” she said.

The garden also directly benefits the community. “The garden can give students in all different kinds of classes the opportunity to do hands on learning,” she said. “The environmental classes are out here once a week. It applies directly to what they’re learning in class.” However, it also has links to many other disciplines. “Every week photo is out here. Every week art is out here. It gives them outdoor space to learn and enjoy and relax and have a different kind of experience in a school,” Bressler said.

Youth and Government members enjoyed giving back to the community. Freshman Kathy Tang said, “As members of Youth and Government in the Diablo Valley delegation, we need to take part in our community because that’s what Youth and Government is about, and community service is a big part of that. It’s a part of school, and by helping the garden, we’re supporting our school.”

Nichols thought that working at the garden was a valuable experience for students. “I think it’s a good life skill to have to be able to grow your own garden and be self sufficient,” he said. “It will also give students a better picture of what impact they’re having on their community and the world at large. Through gardening we’re learning about how to conserve and about other cultures.” Each year, GSE brings in students from countries like Ecuador as part of an exchange program, and the they also visit other countries and volunteer internationally. “The garden is the focal point,” Nichols said.

Nichols also found the work to be rewarding. “It’s a really good way for me to give back to the community. Normally, I’d just go home and do homework or watch TV or something like that, but here I’m doing something productive with my time, and hanging out with people I normally wouldn’t see,” he said.

GSE works in the garden every week, year round, including summertime. While GSE normally holds sessions on Thursdays, the date was rescheduled due to Halloween.