Valley of the Moon Children’s Community School: Santa Rosa

Valley of the Moon Children’s Home addresses the needs of Sonoma County’s abused, abandoned and neglected children. Housing units, a full commercial kitchen and a dining area were constructed in 2005 for the Children’s Home for foster youth. The Home serves over 400 children annually. Near the garden’s front entrance a habitat pond welcomes visitors. The garden, including three large gopher-proof planters, now has a typical summer bounty of raspberries, lemon cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, strawberries, beans, eggplant, kale, squash, pumpkins, melons, corn and hundreds of tomatoes! A pizza garden includes basil, garlic and Sungold tomatoes.

Children’s garden groups meet once per week for two hours to work, learn and eat in the garden. Their favorite part is the harvest, but they are involved in every aspect of gardening — from planting to weeding and watering. A special group of volunteers, calling themselves the “Cha Chas”, meet with students once a month in the school and community garden program to incorporate nutrition information and share recipes. These women donate all the food, prepare meals from scratch with the children and eat together with them as a family. The SGN Cooking From the Garden grant (2008-2009) enabled the school to purchase additional cooking equipment and inspired them to expand the garden. The garden education coordinator and the chef at the Children’s Home now use produce from the garden in creative ways to prepare meals for the children.