PALMDALE – Students enrolled in Hillview Middle School’s Functional Skills program built three raised gardens using modular components, which do not require tools. The space includes decorative containers so students with mobility issues could also participate in the garden.
Students are now tasked with planting and maintaining the garden year-round under the guidance of their teachers.
“Building the beds themselves gave the students a sense of accomplishment and ownership that has made the gardens flourish,” stated Hillview Co-Principal Jennifer Slater-Sanchez. “This program is providing the skills our special education students need to become more independent in life.”
Students grew lettuce, radishes, garlic, peas, beans, Brussel sprouts, carrots, rosemary, lavender and assorted flowers in the fall. This spring the students planted potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, kale, pretzel beans, green beans, cilantro, sage, beets and assorted flowers.
Funds for garden materials were donated by the local organization Women Inspiring Women; the soil was donated by Kellogg Organics; and seeds and live plants were provided by the University of California Cooperative Extension office.
“It takes a community to build a solid foundation for students to learn and grow. Our district is appreciative of everyone that came together to provide this group of students the ability to learn about self-determination,” stated Westside Union School District Superintendent Regina Rossall.
Establishing the garden was a true collaborative effort. The catalyst came from Functionally Skills teacher Ashley Litel-Gibson who was joined by other Hilliview teachers, Andrea Pinkney-Walker and Roberta Conklin-Gordean. The group of three partnered with the Cooperative Extension Master Gardener and parent volunteer, Marti Lindsey.