Summer and Autumn Garden News

October, 2017

Welcome back to the Garden blog!! We had a hiatus over the summer and are ready to share news about recent and upcoming gardening activities at Mira Vista, and in the broader East Bay community.

News and recent activities

  • Over the summer Mira Vista families helped provide essential garden maintenance by watering, pulling weeds and harvesting numerous fruits, vegetables, and herbs!

  • October 3rd – Free garden advice Common Vision came to MV to take care of our fruit trees and educate parents can about how to prune and fertilize trees.
  • Funding news: West County DIGS has received a grant from Kaiser Permanente to educate our students about healthy eating through garden activities. Ms. Rossi also submitted an application for a grant to support the development of physical structures in MV gardens.
  • All classrooms grades K – 6 have visited the gardens to experience the magic of our amazing harvest this year. Over 60 pumpkins, bushels of tomatoes, cucumbers, sunflowers, potatoes and peppers.  Students have made gallons of salsa, studied sunflowers, prepared and eaten pumpkin pancakes, apple zucchini pancakes, and are now enjoying apples from our orchards.

  • With help of master gardener Mr. Dennis, 5th graders have been learning about soil and have built a compost system.

Upcoming events

  • Teachers have signed up for garden visits on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons with Garden Educator, Sarita Pockell.  She will be taking out full classes of students and could use help. Parents are needed to volunteer to help on garden days with your child’s class. Sign up here.
  • October 10, 4-6pm – Whole Kids Foundation Workshop for Teachers and Parents for teachers and parents sponsored by Whole Foods in “Healthy Eating”, a 2-hour nutrition and cooking class.
  • October 12, 6:30pm – Teacher-led STEAM (Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) activity – there will be apple tasting, math lesson and art.
  • October 16-17 – Free garden training Melanie Pepper is an experienced garden educator who will be working in the gardens these days with students and parents. This is a great opportunity to learn some garden skills and help prepare our gardens for winter crops. RSVP to Ms. Rossi if you plan to attend
  • October 21 – Fall Festival – Leaf rubbing art table. Volunteers needed! RSVP to Toni if interested in helping out.
  • October 25, 7pm – Come to the next garden committee meeting if you’re interested in being part of the leadership for the garden programs. RSVP to Tina
  • November 4thGarden maintenance party at school. Mr. Lackey will be leading the effort to build a Greenhouse in the upper garden.  Volunteers needed to assemble greenhouse and prepare the gardens for winter crops. More information is forthcoming on how to join this effort.

Stay tuned in the next post for autumn and winter garden activities, and gardening resources in the community!



Spring Garden News

Our garden is a community effort! Here is a quick round-up of all the great things happening through the hard work of our garden staff, teachers, parents, students, and volunteers.

  • Every class now has scheduled garden days. Sarita, our garden “intern,” is a seasoned environmental educator who sings, plays guitar, and leads fun activities. She and Ms, Rossi led activities for every class in grades K through 5 and Mr. Lackey’s Urban Agriculture elective. Our goal was to introduce the garden rules, give a basic orientation, and show students how to separate into groups to do different activities, including soil exploration, insects, planting, mulching, and food prep.
  • Ms. Spafford’s class prepared homemade tortillas and stir-fried Swiss chard. For most classes we served a vegetable snack with a dip to further our nutrition lessons.
  • Fourth grade and the combined special ed class planted a Three Sisters garden.
  • The middle school students have been helping with garden maintenance by spreading mulch, planting, and weeding. The gardens truly belong to the students—they have been doing most of the work.
  • January through March had more instruction and participation by more students and teachers than any other months in the history of the gardens. During this time we also got our seedlings from the DIGS greenhouse, tomatoes and peppers from the Great Tomato Plant Sale, and extra starts from the Master Gardeners in Concord. Students have planted everything in the upper and lower garden and the teacher boxes by the classroom doors.
  • We have had some solid help from Barbara Dominguez and Aldrin from UC Berkeley, who have worked with students and done a lot of the heavy maintenance.
  • Former School District Superintendent Bruce Harter has been by to weed-eat and help with the gardens. The learning center staff has also put some time into the garden on their days off.
  • American Soil just dropped off 12 yards of soil, partially donated thanks to parents Lexie and Jose Maravilla, which we will use to fill the planter boxes.
  • We also have planted perennials around the lower edge of the upper garden.
  • Tina put in the irrigation for all the new areas that were planted.
  • Alan, who coordinated the Eagle Scout project, fixed the irrigation in the boxes by the classrooms.
  • Common Vision came to prune and fertilize the trees.
  • Grants were submitted to the Richmond Community Foundation for UC interns for next year and to Kaiser Permanente to continue our work on the Healthy Eating project.
  • Ms. Janora designed a new bulletin board at the entrance to school and is tabulating the results of our student fruit and vegetable preference surveys.

What’s New?

A big thank you to the great construction company, McGuire and Hester, for building a cement platform to house a new DIGS greenhouse and school shed. This act of generosity will allow DIGS to provide plant starts to more than 20 schools.


And thanks to our new garden intern and MV parent Sarita Pockell, all classrooms are learning in the garden.

Mira Vista Gardens in the News

Check out this article from Earth Island Journal featuring Mira Vista!

Your teachers—and gardens—need you!

Spring has sprung, and our teachers would LOVE to take their classes out for lessons in the gardens, but they can’t do it without a parent garden volunteer.
How can you help?
Join your teachers in the gardens on Fridays from 1 to 2:20 p.m. and watch your child’s love for nature grow.
Please save the date
Please join us at our garden work party from 10 a.m.  to 1 p.m. on March 11. We’ll be weeding, mulching, and having fun.
Have questions? Email


Garden Update

Our teachers had a great garden meeting today. They made a Power Snack and plans for spring planting. Every Friday will be a workday with a class, which means we can use helpers (particularly on Friday afternoons, but any other day or time, too). Please contact our awesome garden coordinator, Graciella Rossi, if you can help out.

Thanks to former Superintendent Bruce Harter for the beautiful new gate and help with weeding.

Save the date: We will be having a work party on March 11 (weather permitting) because students will start seeds in their classrooms later in the month.

Can’t wait for the rain to stop so everyone can get back out in the gardens!

Check out the garden report

Mira Vista’s Mid-Year Progress Report for the school garden program is here! Take a look.

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

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!