Dunbar Elementary: Glen Ellen

The school and community garden sits on almost one-third of an acre on an oak-studded campus. The site boasts 12 irrigated raised beds, a Three Sisters garden, butterfly garden, herb garden, memorial garden, native plants and a small orchard. The outdoor classroom includes an arbor, garden shed, greenhouse, benches and a shade structure built by parent and community volunteers, such as Sonoma Valley Community Action Network. Supplies and professional development have been funded by Friends of Dunbar School Parent Teacher Organization (FODSPTO), Sonoma Valley Education Foundation, Ruth Riddell Foundation, and local businesses.

The SGN Garden-Based Education grant (2006-2009) enabled garden classes to be offered weekly to all K-5 students. The garden curriculum touches on a variety of subjects from composting to testing the efficacy of natural pesticides to studying the anatomy of insects and worms. Lessons are tied to state educational standards and augment classroom studies in science (photosynthesis, plant anatomy, geology, weather), language arts (vocabulary, journaling), math (mapping, measurement), social science (agricultural history) and art. In addition, team building and life skills, such as responsibility and common sense, are encouraged through hands-on environmental stewardship.

Nutrition is taught through cooking lessons using garden produce, such as making pesto or cucumber salad. A goal is to bring fresh foods from the garden into the cafeteria and to build a garden kitchen. Students also put on an annual garden party and Farmer’s Market, created art in the garden and contributed to community science in the annual Great Backyard Bird Count. Bloomin’ News, a garden newsletter, is published and distributed periodically.