SANTA MONICA – The California Fertilizer Foundation has announced the latest group of school garden grant winners. The six schools awarded grants for the first quarter of 2004 include elementary to high schools from Carlsbad in the south to Stonyford in the north.

John Adams Middle School in Santa Monica uses their garden as part of classroom learning, a garden club and cafeteria supplement. Students and teachers who participate in the school’s “Salad Bar Gardens Co-Op” get free salad bar lunch for their students. The teachers also use the gardens to help illustrate lessons in math, science and literature. John Adams School proves that gardens help students feed their minds and their stomachs at the same time.

The Charter School of Morgan Hill was selected for a start-up garden grant because of their tenacity for garden education. During its first two and an half years of operation, the public charter school was located in an 18,000-square-foot retail facility with limited opportunities for an outside garden. Not to be thwarted, the Agricultural Sciences teacher cultivated an indoor herb garden for use in science and business education. Last summer, the school moved to a new 11-acre campus with plenty of opportunity and space for outdoor gardening.

Clinton B. Nielson High School in Stonyford was selected to receive a grant because of the horticulture therapy the garden provides for the students at Fouts Springs Youth Facility, a juvenile detention facility. “Not only do they learn science concepts more readily, but their social skills improve,” said teacher Karen Cose about the school garden and landscaping project. The CFF grant was to be presented to Cose and the school at the Boot Camp graduation ceremony.

Calavera Hills Elementary School in Carlsbad was selected as a first quarter 2004 winner after not being selected in 2003. “Our program lacks tools, gloves, a garden cart, seeds, plants — but it has a group of very interested and eager fifth and second grade students ready to grow!” wrote Mrs. Estep, the fifth grad teacher responsible for the garden. Since the garden even lacked funds for seeds, Mrs. Estep’s students made paper flowers during an art lesson to brighten up the flowerless raised beds.

Christine Sipherd Elementary School in Modesto is a case study on how to use all of the agricultural and educational resources available to schools to develop, promote and continue a school garden program. Led by Modesto Garden Club member and third grade teacher Jenlane Gee, the Sipherd Snapdragons Garden Club and elementary students have participated in the Plant Doctor Program to learn about fertilizers and weeds and instituted a Weed Patrol program to keep the grounds looking nice. Students in numerous classes have individually used the garden as a source for inspiration in language arts lessons, and Gee’s current class developed their experiences into a book, called “In the Garden.” The CFF grant was to be presented on the last day of school.

Baird Middle School in Fresno has enjoyed seven years of school gardens and the California Fertilizer Foundation school garden grant will hopefully ensure seven more years. The commitment to garden education, led by agriculture teacher Joey Somawang has extended far past the limits of the middle school campus. Baird has reached out to help over 20 other schools with gardening models, garden tours, plants, irrigation parts, workshops and manual labor. Other projects completed by the middle school ag department have included butterfly gardens, a greenhouse, on site farmer’s markets, student develop submissions to the Fresno County Fair and student-family home garden contests to encourage students to start gardens at home. These efforts have helped other schools and community members start their own projects and keep garden education growing.

Applications from after school programs, garden clubs, 4-H and FFA programs are eligible as well. At the end of the year, CFF grant winners from the fourth quarter 2003 through the third quarter of 2004 will be invited to reapply for a progress grant of $1,500 and an agricultural field trip. The next deadline for grant applications, available at www.calfertilizer.org, is Sept. 15, 2004.

e-mail: hcline@primediabusiness.com