Sept. 14, the Abraxas School Community Garden won a grant for $20,000 from the San Diego Gas and Electric company, SDG&E, for winning the title of 2016 Eco Ambassador. This title essentially means that this non-profit organization is the leader in San Diego in providing education on the environment and leadership programs to help create a more sustainable city. SDG&E held a contest with eight competitors such as Meals on Wheels and the San Diego LGBT community center, all vying for the title and the grant money. Voting was open to the public, but even with loft competitors, the continuation school came out on top.
The Abraxas Community Garden began its development in 2015 by transforming a forgotten tennis court into a flourishing center of growth and learning. Class curriculum seamlessly incorporates the garden, allowing students to learn many real-life applicable lessons in agriculture, construction, economics, and even language classes.
The money won from this eco-grant will go towards six different programs rooted in the garden.
Here is a list of the classes and programs that work hand in hand with the garden.
Aquaponics: A symbiotic environment that combines aquaculture (aquatic animals) and hydroponics (growing plants in a medium outside of traditional soil). This facet teaches students biology as wells as providing key nutrients for other aspects of the garden.
Agriculture: In the school’s agriculture class, students are taught the basics of supporting vegetation starting from tiny seedlings. Food grown in the garden will eventually go towards feeding local families in need. Students in this class are also planting seedlings of local Californian plants outside of the pots in order to help provide native habitats and to help expand the local ecosystem.
Construction: Abraxas offers construction classes that work hand-in-hand with the garden. They have built 32 raised garden beds and a temporary tilapia fish pond that is used in the aquaponics department. Their current project is a 7,000 gallon tilapia pond that will replace the old one.
Transition and Recycling: The transition program, or special education program, works with the recycling program to better the environment. Their current objective is collecting compost that will go towards soil in their garden.
Spanish: Spanish classes offered at the continuation school are also deeply ingrained in the garden project. Two garden boxes are dedicated to growing chilli peppers, tomatoes and other ingredients for students to use to make salsa. Students have also filmed videos in Spanish on how make the salsa and decorated their corner of the garden with Latin artwork.
Economics: Already, economic classes at the school have coordinated the distribution of produce grown and the various branches of the garden project.
The small school of some 150 students, including a substantial Latino population, and countless teachers and staff, have come together to create a flourishing garden. Further information and pictures of the garden project and individuals involved in maintaining the project can be found on the school’s website.