February Fun in the Garden

The weather is warming up and our garden continues to grow. Here are a few of the activities that sprouted up in February.

100th Day of School

To celebrate the 100th day of school, students practiced math in the garden. They counted sunflower seeds by fives and learned that one sunflower head had 2,350 seeds.


Herbal Sachets
The Garden Girls and Ms. Rossi helped Ms Janora’s 1st grade class make herbal sachets for each student. Students learned about and smelled a variety of herbs and spices – lavender, mint, fir, cedar, orange peels, cinnamon, cloves, sage, rose petals.They learned about some of the uses of herbs for healing. They picked herbs that they liked and tied them up in little pouches of beautiful material donated by a neighbor. If you have any herbs that can be dried or fabric scraps, this is an ongoing project that the students love and connects them to nature in a multisensory lesson. We plan to grow many herbs in both our gardens. Students from Ms King’s class and Mr. Wallacher also joined the Garden Girls and Ms. Rossi to make sachets in the Learning Center.

sachet making
Eating Healthy Food
Ms. Janora’s, Ms. Spafford’s, Ms. King’s and Mr. Lackey’s classes, with the aid of Garden Girls, harvested the vegetables that they had grown in their planter boxes. Broccoli, kale, romanesco, and lettuce were simply washed and cut into small pieces and dipped in Annie’s ranch dressing — and the students could not get enough. This is a great and nutritious snack idea that our students love. Parents walking by were stunned at how kids were eating vegetables with such delight! Mrs. MacLachlan and Mr. Lucas, with help from parent Barbara Cavoto, also harvested and cooked with greens
Students took home garden vegetables and one Garden Girl made pasta with greens for her family.


Growing Strong Starts
We gathered at WC DIGS Greenhouse at Assemble Restaurant in Point Richmond to grow plant starts for many of our WCCUSD school gardens. Contact Graciella.i.rossi@gmail.com for more info. And check out the WC DIGS website to learn more about how school gardens are growing and thriving all over the district.

Teachers from WC DIGS hosted a sachet Making table at the Martin Luther King Junior Day of Service on the Richmond Greenway to promote our work of building school gardens in WCCUSD.

Jamba Juice Event – April 2, 2015
Mira Vista will be presented with a check from Jamba Juice to purchase garden supplies at 2:30 pm. Please join Jamba Juice volunteers from 10 am to 5 pm to help build storage sheds and maintain our garden. We really need your help to prepare the gardens for the unique and exciting learning opportunity that they provide for Mira Vista students. No experience necessary – just be prepared to lend a hand and have fun. Please email gardens@miravistaschool.com if you are able to join us. And stay tuned for our next post that will have more details about the event.

And don’t forget that March is National Nutrition Month, when we focus attention on the importance of making informed food choices and developing sound eating and physical activity habits. What better way to do that than reaping the benefits of Mira Vista’s Gardens!

Mira Vista Awarded 2 Garden Grants

Great news! Mira Vista has been awarded not 1 but 2 garden grants to help benefit our children’s environmental education and overall health and well-being. The grants from ERM Foundation and the California Fertilizer Foundation will be used to help make necessary repairs and purchase tools and equipment to make it easier for students and parent volunteer be in the gardens.

Please stay tuned for our upcoming spring garden work party in April with Jamba Juice, where we’ll work on these projects. Date to be announced soon!

Meanwhile, as the weather warms, we can really use your help in the garden. Please stop by on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Upper Garden if you have time to spare, are willing to chat with the Garden Girls group, and can lend a hand pulling a weed or two. Contact gardens@miravistaschool.com with any questions.

January 2015 Garden Update

It has been the season of greens — kale, chard, bok choy, broccoli and romanesco (also called broccoflower, a combo of broccoli and cauliflowerthat looks like a jewel), as well as being awarded 2 grants to help the gardens flourish!


Kale is a leafy green, cruciferous vegetable that is chock-full of essential vitamins A, C and K, as well as minerals like copper, potassium, iron, manganese and phosphorus.

Parent support is needed to prepare garden vegetables for the classrooms. We have been preparing kale salad, kale chips and more pasta with greens. The Kale Chips were a big hit! Even people who do not like kale asked for the Flawless Kale Chips Recipe.

If you have the time and interest please contact your child’s teacher or Ms. Rossi. Ms. Spafford’s class ate broccoli that they planted in the garden with dip, and they also made delicious kale smoothies. Ms. King’s class made a salad from their garden bed. Ms. Janora is getting ready to plant an herb garden. Ms. McLachlan’s class has made fritattas several times with parent garden volunteer, Barbara Cavoto. Ms. Rossi’s Learning Center students made estimations of number of seeds in a sunflower head and then counted the seeds in rows of fives on a graph on the 100th day of school. One head had 2,350 seeds!

Planting the Seeds

Please join us to plant seeds at the West County DIGS Greenhouse at Assemble Restaurant in Point Richmond on February 9 from 4 – 6 p.m. During this lovely event, we will plant seeds that will be the starts that we plant in March, and eventually the vegetables we eat at Mira Vista in April and May. Contact gardens@miravistaschool.com for more info.

Ms. Rossi’s program, The Garden Girls program has started for its second year. Garden Girls are researching herbs and their uses, helping several classes in the garden and to make sachets out of dried herbs, maintaining the garden and planting new crops. Recently, we made Pasta with Garden Greens and Parsley for Mr. Lackeys’ Literacy class. Students scraped the pot and asked for more. This elective class meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:55 – 2:45 p.m. and still has openings. We are accepting applications! Contact Ms. Graciella Rossi.

Please Help!

As the weather warms, we can use your help in the garden. Please stop by on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 – 5 p.m. at the Upper Garden if you have time to spare. And stay tuned for our spring garden work party in April with Jamba Juice. Date to be announced soon!

November–December Garden Report

bcphoto 8Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere! We grew more than a dozen big pumpkins in both gardens this year and have been making pumpkin bread in Ms. Rossi’s Learning Center and Mr. Lackey’s Urban Ag class. Fourth-grade students practiced reading the recipe, learned about fractions and measurement, studied the nutritional value of pumpkins, and followed the directions to make loaves of glorious pumpkin bread. One student put too much vanilla in, which made it even better.

mulchMulch spreaders needed! The Urban Ag class has worked hard and is almost finished putting down mulch in the upper garden. Mack Tree Company donated a second batch of mulch for the lower garden, and we need helpers to bring it in wheelbarrows from the playground to the garden. Email gardens@miravistaschool.com or drop a comment below if you can help out.

Both gardens are bursting with several different kinds of kale, bok choy, and Swiss chard. Ms. Rossi and her husband, Rick Spittler, brought in their camp kitchen gear and made pasta with Swiss chard, kale, basil, and onions. Many middle schoolers lined up for a second helping. Did you know that a serving of kale provides 96% of your daily vitamin A?

IMG_2992With the help of parent Barb Cavoto, Mrs. McLachlan’s third-grade class picked greens and enjoyed a sauté and a salad from the garden. If you would like to make a snack out of greens for your child’s classroom, there is plenty for all. Have you ever made kale chips? Yum!!


School gardens in our community have been written up in the Journal of Education (School Garden article, Vol 194.3). The article discusses how school gardens promote healthier eating habits and environmental awareness and provide fertile soil for both local and global community building.

IMG_2874West County DIGS now has a greenhouse affiliated with Assemble Restaurant in Point Richmond where we can grow starts for all the gardens in West Contra Costa Unified School District. Our greens, cauliflower, and broccoli were started from seed in this greenhouse.

Enjoy the final days of fall, and come check out the changes winter is bringing to our gardens.


Garden Photos and Philosophy


bcphoto 1All gardening is landscape painting.
—William Kent


bcphoto 2A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.
—Gertrude Stein
bcphoto 4Cooking and gardening involve so many
disciplines: math, chemistry,
reading, history.
—David Chang


bcphoto 5By plucking her petals, you do not gather the beauty of the flower.
—Rabindranath Tagore


bcphoto 7Why try to explain miracles to your kids
when you can just have them
plant a garden?
—Robert Brault


bcphoto 8If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.
—Marcus Tullius Cicero

October Garden News: Third Harvest

As we move deeper into autumn and toward winter, the Mira Vista gardens are still very busy and full of life. Winter crops have been planted, classes are learning about agricultural cycles, and students and their families continue to enjoy an abundant harvest.

New Plant Starts for the Winter Gardens

At the West County DIGS (Developing Instructional Gardens in Schools) greenhouse, located in Point Richmond and working in conjunction with Assemble Restaurant and UC Berkeley, Ms. Rossi started seeds that have grown into beautiful vegetable starts: bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, onions, and purple cauliflower.


Ms. Spafford and Ms. Janora (first grade), Ms. King and Ms. Bauer (second grade), and Mrs. McLachlan (third grade) have all brought their classes out to help plant our winter crops. There are many starts left over; if any parents or teachers would like to take them, please contact Ms. Rossi at GRossi@wccusd.net. A small donation is suggested to help support our gardens.

The Harvest

All the apples in the lower garden were harvested, and Mr. Lackey, Ms. Rossi, and parent volunteers made delicious apple cider from our apple press at the Fall Festival.


We have continued to harvest greens, pumpkins, tomatoes, and eggplants. Ms. Rossi and Mr. Ruiz worked with fifth-grade students to harvest lettuce and cucumbers and enjoyed a big salad. Now is the time of year for pumpkin bread (you can bake a whole pumpkin instead of using canned) and kale chips!

Urban Agriculture

We received a truckload of mulch from Mack Tree Company, and Urban Ag students have been busy mulching the upper garden and planting the winter crops. The class also planted fava beans and learned about their role in nitrogen fixing.

mulch wheelbarrow urban ag

Volunteer Needs

We could use some help distributing mulch to the gardens. We would like to get another load for the lower garden, but we need volunteers to spread it. We could also use more volunteers to plant the next season’s seeds for WCCUSD schools; email gardens@miravistaschool.com if you’re interested or leave a comment below.


Calling all Mira Vista Garden supporters …

You are invited to a Mira Vista Garden gathering


When: Saturday, October 18 from 12pm-2pm


What: Thanks to parent, teacher and community support, Mira Vista’s gardens are thriving. Several classes have already held apple parties, and students are ready to show off their pumpkins and press apples at the Fall Festival. Come meet and mingle with all the people who’ve helped make the Mira Vista Gardens a success, and find out how you can help the gardens continue to grow.


Where: For security and privacy reasons, we can’t publish all the event location, but please rsvp at gardens@miravistaschool.com and we’ll send you the address.
We hope to see you there!

September News: Work Party with Jamba










On September 29, a group of 20 employees from Jamba Juice along with Mr. Lackey, Ms. Rossi, and a handful of energetic MV parents participated in a work day for our gardens. In just a few hours, we were able to:

  • Rebuild and gopher proof more planter boxes
  • Build six benches
  • Add compost and mulch to the planter boxes
  • Pull weeds and clean up the area

Wow! It’s amazing what a group of dedicated volunteers can accomplish. Thank you parents, teachers, and Jamba Juice crew!



barb jamba3




September News: In the Classroom


September was a very busy month for the Mira Vista gardens. Teachers visited both gardens and discussed ways to incorporate garden learning into the curriculum. Ms. Rossi presented them with some lessons on tomatoes (and some tomatoes). Nearly every class spent some time in the garden, and students harvested more than just fruits and vegetables.


Mrs. Wong’s kindergarten class did a science unit on the Life Cycle of an Apple. They visited the gardens, sketched the apples in the trees, and picked some to make applesauce in the classroom. They thought the applesauce was yummy!

Both first-grade classes participated in a week-long Apple Unit as a combined class. The students were engaged in a variety of apple activities: labeling the anatomy of an apple, tasting different kinds and graphing their favorites, writing about their favorite apples, describing the senses used to experience them, and much more. They ended the week with an Apple Party to celebrate Johnny Appleseed’s birthday, created some apple art projects, and ate lots of apple goodies!

Ms. Bauer’s second-grade class picked and tasted tomatoes and read some tomato-based literature.

Ms. Cruger-Hansen’s fourth-graders enjoyed a drawing lesson in the garden.

wormclass4The fifth-graders in Ms. Ross’s class had a lesson in vermiculture from Josh Arnold and Eleanor Lum of Healing from the Ground Up, an organization that empowers Richmond communities with the necessary tools to reclaim urban soils for agriculture and health. Students learned about worm composting, and Josh and Ellie have given us worm bins for four of our classrooms.

In Mr. Lackey’s seventh-grade Urban Agriculture class, students are learning about vermiculture, nutrition, integrated pest management, and gardening methods. They picked baskets of apples, beans, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, pumpkins, and tomatoes while removing old plants and getting the soil ready for winter crops. They planted several winter vegetable starts donated by Occidental Arts and Ecology Center, including kale, onions, leeks, broccoli, and lettuce.




Check back soon for more garden news!


Garden Workday on Sept 29 – Please Join Us!

If you are available from 9am-1pm on Monday September 29th to help in the gardens, the school could really use your assistance. About 20 Jamba Juice employees also will be on hand to assist with putting down mulch, weeding and building projects. So please join if you can and help make Mira Vista’s Gardens be the best they can be! (Meet at the Upper Garden.)