Native Habitat Gardens Bring New Life to MVWSD Schools

Volunteer Crew from the California Landscape Contractor's Association and Foothill College
Volunteer Crew from the California Landscape Contractor's Association and Foothill College

 March 24, 2014                  

Contact Vicki Moore 650-224-8274


Mountain View elementary schools have added attractive new life to their campuses, thanks to California native habitat gardens that are sprouting up.  Living Classroom, a non profit garden-based education program, has created new California Native Habitat gardens at at Monta Loma, Theuerkauf and Bubb elementary schools to join Castro School’s garden, which was completed 5 years ago.


 “These gardens provide little islands of biodiversity and teach children about the plants and habitats around where we live, the wildlife that depend on those plants, and also how native Americans in California relied on these plants for their survival,” said Vicki Moore, Living Classroom Executive Director and designer of most of the gardens.  “Children in multiple grade levels will learn about ecology, biodiversity, habitats, and ethnobotany, among other subjects, through the garden,” she continued. 


This summer, Landels and Huff elementary schools will receive their native gardens so that all 7 elementary schools will have both native and edible gardens. In addition, plans are underway to create new native and edible gardens for Graham and Crittenden Middle Schools.


Living Classroom docent and retired middle and high school teacher Barbara Saxton noted, “These school gardens provide a kind of living laboratory where rewarding outdoor learning can take place. Through the school gardens and Living Classroom lessons, children discover and study plants native to our own region.  As they participate in planting, tending and harvesting edible plants, students not only learn where their food comes from, but they also experience all-important regular exposure to nature and its many bounties.”


MVWSD Superintendent Craig Goldman said, "We are grateful to Living Classroom for bringing nature-based lessons and school garden experiences to our students.  We appreciate how the docents are inspiring students to make real world connections and become actively engaged with their environment."


By this June, Living Classroom will have given 275 lessons to 48 second and third grade classrooms at all 7 elementary schools at MVWSD.     About 65% of the lessons are given by 15 trained volunteer docents from the parent community, retired teachers and other retired individuals, students from local colleges and others who simply like to share their love of nature with children. 


“The best part of giving Living Classroom lessons is the excitement from the students when they are so engaged in our hands-on lessons……they are having so much fun, they don’t even realize that they are learning some really important content standards,”  said Mallory Traughber, Program Director for the MVWSD Living Classroom program.


The newly completed Theuerkauf garden was made possible thanks to the California Landscape Contractor’s Association, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, plus funding from a Google “Home Sweet Home” grant.  Over two days, a barren area in the middle of the campus with no student access was transformed into a mini-ecosystem and habitat area featuring 32 species of California native plants with a meandering pathway allowing students to get up close to the plants.  Plant signs explain the Native American uses of the plants (ethnobotany) and the wildlife interactions.


Special thanks to the Valley Crest Landscape Maintenance, Celtis Group, Gachina Landscape Management, Camin Landscaping, GP Landscaping,  students from Foothill College Horticulture program, Horizon,Lyngso Garden Materials, Suncrest Nurseries,  all of whom provided all the labor and the materials for the Theuerkauf school garden.


The Living Classroom is always looking for volunteers to be trained as docents and teach or assist in the nature-based lessons.  To learn more or get involved, contact Mallory Traughber at Mtraughber@mvwsd.org or call 650-526-3500 x 1118 and visit www.living-classroom.org.


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