SGN Member Spotlight: Guerneville Elementary School

Submitted by Richelle Stoufer

Guerneville6Guerneville Elementary School (K-8) has built a strong, garden-centered program that is academically integrated into the school day.  Our Garden Coordinator, Richelle Stoufer, keeps the garden supplied and ready for weekly classes. Our school garden is unique in that every teacher K-5 has committed one hour every week to garden-based education throughout the school year. This is rare! Students in grades 6-8 have an elective rotation in the garden, developing small projects and working independently with guidance and supervision from their Science teacher, Deneen Carter, and Richelle.

Our garden is about “process” not “product”, which means we grow food to learn, to live well, and to eat nutritiously as often as possible. We incorporate information from the Harvest of the Month program, focusing on in-season fruits and vegetables. Our Food Services Manager, Patti Alberini, works to incorporate the Harvest of the Month item into the school menu each month. New this year, we will participate in the tasting box program with Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF,) extending raw tastings into a cooking project every month.

Last school year we had several wonderful projects:

  • We hosted the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center class on building Willow StructuresGuerneville5
  • We built birdhouses with several students and families
  • Clark Wolf hosted our annual Chef in the Garden event and Chef Daniel Kedan of the Backyard Restaurant in Forestville created several beautiful dishes from local sources
  • Jamie Daniels and three Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Student Garden Externs worked in our garden and hosted students in a Garden Camp in July.
  • We collaborated with the Garden Mentor Program through Global Student Exchange, a new internship program for High School Students to work in school gardens.

Over the eight years we have spent developing our garden program we have seen big changes in the way our students (and teachers!) view food. They are brave tasters! Our garden is an integral part of the school curriculum and we are very proud of it. Check out our website at http://gs-ges-ca.schoolloop.com/cms/page_view?d=x&piid=&vpid=1325748569411 for more information.