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Garden plants seeds of real life

Pomona Elementary debuts its student gardens, which will teach life skills like math and caring for living organisms.

March 16, 2012|By Britney Barnes
  • Magali Trujillo, left, and Crystal Morales, finish planting yellow sweet corn in the new teaching gardens at Pomona Elementary School. The planting boxes will serve as live learning centers for nutrition, science, ecology and math.
Magali Trujillo, left, and Crystal Morales, finish planting… (Don Leach, Daily…)

While the ingredients list for a garden only has three items — soil, seeds and water — putting one together isn't so simple.

To start, measure the perimeter of each planter to calculate how much wood is needed. Then research when to plant and how to grow organically.

Building a garden brings real life to the classroom, teachers say.

"It gets back to the real purpose of education: tying the real world to their world," said fifth-and sixth-grade combo teacher Valerie Davisson. "We recognize the value of real experience making — making the intangible tangible."

Pomona Elementary School broke ground Thursday on its first organic learning garden funded by a $12,000 grant from theAmerican Heart Assn.to give each grade a box to grow flowers, vegetables, fruits or herbs that relate to the science curriculum standards.

"It's a great opportunity for our kids to participate in project-based learning," Principal Megan Brown said.

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The upper-grade students came out for the celebration, helping plant and sketching diagrams of the different plots, which were filled with edibles like strawberries, hot chili peppers, Swiss chard, spinach, snow peas, tomatoes and broccoli.

Getting the garden ready for its debut was the project of the 11 sixth-grade students who decided not to go to science camp with help from parents, the school's Green Team and MIKA, a nonprofit dedicated to helping Costa Mesa's Westside.

Sixth-grader Charlie Bellah, 12, worked hard Monday shoveling dirt into the planters, but it was also fun, she said.

"I like the idea of making a garden, so I wanted to make it nice," she said. "It makes school more interesting since we get to do it and not just listen."

The garden fits in with the Green Team's goals of teaching sustainability and gives many of the students their first experience gardening, said fourth-grade teacher Martha Rankin, advisor to the Green Team.

For many of the students, being green is important, she said.

"It's something that grabs their heart and they want to do something to make the world better," Rankin said.

britney.barnes@latimes.com

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes

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