McKinley Elementary: Petaluma

This site includes both a school and community garden, with over 20 raised beds divided between classroom and family plots. In addition, the school program encourages family participation through garden classes, a weekly lunchtime garden club, after school garden activities (through Boys & Girls Club) and as summertime stewards.

Petaluma Bounty was a founding partner in planning and building the garden. Over 50 volunteers helped prepare the soil and build raised beds on the first workday! Community members donated materials for the garden shed and tools. The Bounty Farm, an urban educational farm located within walking distance, also furthers students’ exploration and studies through activities. These activities include beekeeping, small farm animals, a flower growing business, planting, harvesting and all aspects of daily farm life.

With almost 90% of the students qualifying for free or reduced lunches, families are now able to provide healthy food on a regular basis, many of them growing both winter and summer crops. By making salads and cooking from the garden, children are learning to eat vegetables they have grown with their parents and classmates.

The SGN Garden-Based Education grant (2009-2010) has allowed the Garden Education Coordinator to work more closely with teachers to develop year-round lesson plans that support classroom learning, and act as a liaison with community organizations to enhance the program. Weekly gardening for each class integrates state educational standards with FOSS and Life Lab designed lessons on plant growth, water, insects and life cycles – concepts that Principal Sherry Devine says “cannot be duplicated with a textbook.”