Mountain View Voice

News - August 17, 2012

More than salad

Waldorf school's garden teaches, feeds the hungry

by Emily Efland

Clearly, many middle school and high school students at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula aren't dreading returning to school. A number of them have been working all summer with Waldorf's gardening teacher in the school's gardens.

The students' hard work culminated last week in the donation of their first harvest to the St. Vincent de Paul food bank. Students, teachers and parents on Aug. 6 picked the ripe fruit and vegetables for the food bank, which provides produce and other food for those in need every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Gardening teacher Anastasia Sinclair says the private school donated vegetables such as tatsoi, chard, kale, beets and cucumbers in its first harvest. While the winter months may provide less food, Waldorf School officials intend to operate its garden year-round, Sinclair says.

Waldorf has a tradition of teaching its students gardening in order to emphasize working with the land to provide sustainable eating for local communities. Last week's harvest was the school's first in its new location at St. Athanasius Church in Mountain View, which has a ?-acre garden space to grow fruits, vegetables and flowers.

"We're trying to integrate the idea of sustainability into our curriculum, and really a lot of it is providing the students with some opportunities in which they can make a difference in the world," Sinclair says. "It has a lot to do with giving them tools, integrating the classroom lessons to hands-on, real-life experience."

Students from first to eighth grade spend an hour a week learning gardening. High school students have a one-week agriculture program taught by Sinclair, who says she is looking into expanding the high school gardening experience. All students who work in the summer garden are volunteers.

Apart from common produce, Sinclair has filled the school's garden with rare, often indigenous, crops such as red tortilla corn and ancient Sonora wheat. She is also growing barley, cowpeas, rye, potatoes and 30 different kinds of beans.

"I go to all these rare seed-saving places and exchange seeds with all these indigenous people, I bring them back and see what grows well," Sinclair says. "There's a lot of things growing that you won't find in the supermarket. I'm experimenting with what I grow, and what I've found is that everything grows."

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