By Roy Wilburn.
In the November newsletter, Pioneer Elementary in Escondido was featured as the first $1000 recipient of the San Diego Horticultural Society’s School Garden Grant for 2019.
The second recipient of $1000 went to Abraxas High School in Poway this year.
At Abraxas High School they have created an on-campus garden that is designed, built, grown, and harvested by students. They donate 80% of fruits and vegetables to families in need within their community as well as to their student body. In the past three years, they have donated over 6,500 pounds of produce to the community. The garden sits on an old, unused tennis court on campus and has become a beautiful addition to the neighborhood. Their garden was voted the number one high school garden in the nation (2017 & 2018) by the National Garden Clubs, Inc. The garden is divided into two separate areas and has about 150 students working there per year. Half of the garden is a traditional soil based garden where vegetables are grown in raised beds. The other half of the garden is an aquaponics garden. They have an 8,000 gallon in-ground pond with over 300 tilapia fish. These fish provide the nutrients to the plants, which use 85% less water than traditional gardening. The aquaponics garden allows the students to be taught sustainable gardening because the same water is used over and over to grow their produce.
The grant money will help with purchases of irrigation supplies, fish food, seeds and grow plugs for the constant turnover of produce from the garden.