What’s been going on in our gardens?

Can you believe your children have been attending school for more than a month? While that seems difficult to believe, what’s even more amazing is the amount of activity that’s been going on in Mira Vista’s School Gardens. I’ll do my best to recap everything that’s been happening …

Summer Helpers and the Perfect Path

Our first thank you goes to ALL of our amazing summer volunteers who gave up your precious time to tend the gardens, making sure things were watered and cared for when school wasn’t in session.septgardensseptgardenspath

If you haven’t made it to the gardens yet this year, then head over to the lower garden and check out the new path. A HUGE thank you to Ms. Barb and her family for her efforts in creating a welcoming walkway and tending to our gardens. If you didn’t already know, Ms. Barb  (and her yummy kale chips) are well-loved by students. We can’t say enough about her volunteer efforts. We are eternally grateful!




Getting Ready for Back to School

The day before school started, on August 21, many people in our community not only helped weed and pickup litter from all over campus, but they also saved our kids’ soles by sweeping up broken glass that vandals had left on the playground over the summer. Again, thanks to everyone who helped with the campus cleanup. I for one was happy that I didn’t need to worry about my child getting cut.



Boyscouts Build Boxes

On September 10, the El Cerrito Boy Scouts helped to build and repair garden boxes. Many of you came out to help, and it was a fun and productive day, The elementary school teachers are particularly excited to have plants growing right outside their classroom windows.

Funding for Our Outdoor Classroom

Also in September, we were notified that we received a $10,000 grant from the city of Richmond to support our gardens. A big chunk of the money, which will be awarded later this school year, will be used for much-needed equipment and facility repairs, but it also will go toward teaching – to help your student learn about  while spending time in the outdoors.

What’s So Special About Our Gardens?image7


Our garden educator Graciella Rossi has no doubt had a busy and bountiful start to the school year, as she’s helped teachers with common core lessons on tomatoes, baking zucchini bread, Johnny Appleseed, solar oven cookies, and so much more. I hear our students have planted fresh crops of lettuce and broccoli. So if you want a taste of what goes on in our gardens, then I encourage you to work with your child’s classroom teacher and volunteer in our “outdoor classroom.”

Our gardens continue to grow into an amazing educational space for our students and are thriving thanks to so many of you. With the continued help from our community, I can’t wait to see what springs up next.

Stay tuned to this blog to find out.

Your Garden Committee 


Sign up now for DIGS gardening workshops

Want to learn more about rainwater harvesting or creating compost? Then sign up to attend one of the many workshops being offered by West County DIGS.

Workshops are open to all West Contra Costa Unified School District teachers, as well as Mira Vista School community members. composting

For more details about the workshops and to register, visit http://www.westcountyschoolgardens.org/events.html.

Thank you garden volunteers! – Los increíbles voluntarios del jardín



MV PTA’s garden committee and Eastbay DIGS teamed up last Spring and secured a $20,000 grant to improve and develop teaching around our beautiful gardens. This past weekend we teamed up with the El Cerrito Boy Scouts and did an incredible amount of work. Thanks, guys!








El Comit  é de jardín del PTA de  MV y el equipo de Eastbay DIGS se unieron durante la primavera y nos aseguraron una donación de  $ 20,000, para mejorar y desarrollar la enseñanza alrededor de nuestros bellos jardines. Este pasado fin de semana  junto con el club de niños exploradores del El Cerrito hicimos  una increíble cantidad de trabajo. ¡Gracias chicos!

Come celebrate with Mira Vista and West County DIGS!

gardenreportsquashYou are cordially invited to join us for a garden party.

When: May 13, 5:30 to 7:30

Where: Mira Vista gardens

Details are in the invitation link. Please RSVP by email to Molly Wahl (address in invitation) by Friday, April 29 if you will attend.

-Spring Fling Invitation

Green thumbs and handy people, we need you!

Our fantastic gardens need some help. We are seeking parents who are handy with tools and construction or who want to help teachers take their classes out to the gardens. The garden committee has plans for a new shed and a greenhouse, and we can always use handy people to help with other projects like garden box and fence repairs. As for classroom help, teachers can always use more volunteers to assist in the gardens—if your child’s teacher hasn’t taken the class out to the garden lately, it may be because he or she doesn’t have support. If you have some time to spare, please email gardens@miravistaschool.com.

Next time you notice one of our hard-working volunteers in the garden, please stop and say thanks! We wouldn’t have beautiful growing spaces without them.


September Garden Report


gardenreportsquashThe garden is a delight, filled with many autumn gifts. Students have been harvesting gigantic squash, tomatoes, corn, apples, strawberries, parsley, basil, and cucumbers.
Several classrooms have made salad, vegetable stir fry, and lavosh with cream cheese and vegetables. We have definitely been getting our vitamin C with the incredible feasting on tomatoes and vitamin A from our huge carrot crop. Many thanks to parent Barb Cavoto for her dedication to the garden and preparing delicious vegetable treats in the fourth-grade classrooms.

The planter boxes are being prepared for winter crops. Mrs. Bauer’s class planted pea starts and worked on many garden projects.

gardenreport2Fall is an excellent time for learning in the gardens. We collect and study seeds and talk about the different ways they travel. Insects abound, and a special visitor—the orb spider—provides many teachable moments. Caterpillars can be found on the milkweed bushes, promising the birth of monarch and tiger swallowtail butterflies.

Learning Center students harvested castings from our worm bins to provide rich compost for our planter boxes.

928mulchSpecial thanks to the parents, teachers, and volunteers from Wells Fargo for all their effort on the work day on September 29. Both gardens got a great makeover. Fifth-graders and a few other students came out and helped spread mulch and build shelves for the upper garden shed. We filled an entire trailer with weeds and compost!

Thank you, volunteers!

Wells Fargo team

A big thank you to the Wells Fargo team and all our parent, staff, and community volunteers who helped out yesterday. The gardens look great! More details to come.


Garden Work Party with Wells Fargo 9/29


Bring your water bottle and gloves and join the hardworking volunteers from Wells Fargo on Tuesday, September 29 for a Garden Work Party. We’ll be working to get our outdoor classrooms looking their best from 10 am to 1 pm; stop by whenever you can.

Click here for more details.

Can’t make this day? Please email gardens@miravistaschool.com to schedule another time with us to support our gardens. We are also looking for parent representatives for each class to help teachers bring more students into the gardens.

What We Do Here

Here’s a quick rundown of garden news and activities from last spring.


Teacher Training and Leadership

Ms. Rossi attended  Life Lab’s UC Santa Cruz Growing Classroom Workshop, learning hands-on, garden-based lessons linked to Common Core Language Arts and Math and Next Generation Science Standards.

Ms. Janora and Ms. Rossi attended the 2015 Healthier Generation Northern California Summit with the purpose of networking with other school leaders to support improving school nutrition  and physical education. We think that the school gardens can play an important role in teaching students about healthy eating and exercise.

Jamba Juice Work Day and Awards Ceremony

We know one thing: when kids grow it, they eat it!

Fourth-grade students learned about tmarch3he five different food groups and how to eat for optimal health.

march4The Garden Girls prepared fava beans, kale, parsley, and garlic from the garden with rice and shared it with their classmates, promoting healthy food.

Students from Mrs. McLachlan’s class picked kale and made frittatas with parent Barb Cavoto.  The Garden Girls made a Hakuna Matata Frittata for Niah’s healthy birthday celebration. Everyone had seconds, if not thirds.


Garden Activities help students grasp the real meaning of scientific and math concepts. They learn to ask questions and plan investigations.

march6Students in the Learning Center and Ms. Bauer’s class dissected fava beans to learn the parts and functions of a bean seed.


Students grouped insects and spiders into different categories to understand their characteristics.

Second grade students observed fava beans with new hand lenses from National Kids Gardening Association, funded by Jamba Juice.

Math For Real—fourth-grade students read seed packets to determine how to divide up a garden bed on graph paper to ensure proper seed spacing.

The Garden Girls and special guest herbalist Janet De Haven made a salve with Mrs. MacLachlan’s third-grade class. We learned about different medicinal uses of plants growing in our gardens and in the schoolyard, many of which are common weeds, and collected them to make an herbal preparation for our skin. Some students studied specific herbs and reported to the class about their uses.



Students testing different garden soils for mineral and acid content for a science project.

The Garden Girls and Ms. Rossi had the privilege of attending the Goldman Environmental Prize Event at the Opera House in San Francisco. We were so inspired by these heroes from all over the world who work to protect the natural environment, often at great personal risk.


Items Received

From West County DIGS—15 pairs gloves, 30 magnifying glasses, 3 yards compost, 10 trowels, 200 plant labels, 30 plants from the DIGS greenhouse, and 12 clipboards. Madera School lent wheelbarrows and shovels for a workday.

The Jamba Juice grant gave $1,200 in National Garden Association materials, including flower and bug building kits, an inflatable butterfly cycle, two outdoor bulletin boards, six large hand lenses, and a planter box for the upper garden. Jamba Juice also donated $250, which was spent on herb and vegetable starts and supplies for garden lessons.

Late Summer Harvest

School is just around the corner, and the garden is lush and thriving thanks to the loving care of the garden volunteers. Enjoy the pictures, and look carefully—you may see a few surprises!


West Coast Lady




peas and fava beans




monster zucchini


heirloom tomatoes


new residents