Monday, April 23 , 2018, 1:44 am | Fair 55º

 
 
 
 

Students Share Fruits of School Garden, and Discover They Like How It Tastes

Campus enthusiasm grows as Los Alamos restaurants begin serving up produce from Olga Reed Elementary School garden

It takes a special kind of environment to get a child excited about broccoli and other often-shunned green vegetables.

That extraordinary environment is nestled in a corner of Olga Reed Elementary School’s Los Alamos campus in a garden created through a partnership between Orcutt Union School District, Santa Barbara City College’s Center for Sustainability and the Orfalea Foundation.

Enthusiasm for the lettuce, herbs, flowers, beans, fruit trees and more has spilled over into the Los Alamos community, where local restaurants have begun buying and serving what the students produce.

Full of Life Flatbread has a standing weekly order to purchase lettuce, and Café Quackenbush, Bell Street Farm and Casa Dumetz Wines are purchasing the same leafy greens, helping the school with its seedlings fundraiser or both.

If popular restaurants — and even the school cafeteria — are peddling the green stuff they grow, students seem to think it’s not so bad after all.

“The main focus of the garden is to teach kids about nutrition,” said Jennifer Scarano, Olga Reed’s garden education manager. “They’re so excited about it because they have grown it. They understand where food comes from. A lot of their families work in agriculture.”

The garden’s most recent addition of 25 grapevines is produce few other schools boast. Mesa Vineyard donated the vines, since one of the parents, Kevin Merrill, works there.

“That’s important because a lot of our kids’ parents work in the local wine fields,” said Joe Dana, Olga Reed principal. “The entire community of Los Alamos is rallying around our school garden.”

On a recent afternoon, second- and third-graders suppressed runs as they made their way to the garden for their allotted weekly time, where they good naturedly fought over who would get to pull weeds, water, plant or pack seedlings.

Watering, planting and weeding are just some of the tasks that Olga Reed School students enjoy doing in their campus garden, which was planted in December. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Watering, planting and weeding are just some of the tasks that Olga Reed School students enjoy doing in their campus garden, which was planted in December. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

The garden, which was planted back in December, filled with the laughter and questions of enthusiastic volunteers.

“I like watering the plants,” said third-grader Monet Delacruz.

Many of the students, including fourth-grader Waldo Rodriguez, compared the space to the gardens of their families.

Waldo said his family doesn’t have parsley or lettuce in their much smaller garden.

“It’s fun to plant here,” said Waldo, noting that the lettuce tastes good. “Gardening is full of life.”

Waldo is one of many who volunteered to work at a farmer’s market on a Saturday last month in the rural town’s C Gallery, which featured the school’s produce.

Scarano said she’s hopeful the community will continue to enthusiastically support the school garden after its funding from Orfalea goes away, which is slated to happen this summer.

“I feel like the more people that feel ownership for the garden, the more they’ll support this,” she said.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Olga Reed School garden education manager Jennifer Scarano shows students the seeds they'll be selling as part of a school fundraiser. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)
Olga Reed School garden education manager Jennifer Scarano shows students the seeds they’ll be selling as part of a school fundraiser. (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

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