PVUSD GATE Differentiation Specialist

PVUSD GATE Services Office

Lyn Olson, GATE Coordinator Ted Altenberg, GATE Resource Teacher

Lyn Olson, GATE Coordinator

(831) 786-2144 or (831) 786-2100 x 2580  

Ted Altenberg, GATE Teacher

  (831) 786-2144 or (831) 786-2100 x 2581

Pajaro Valley Unified School District

294 Green Valley Rd.
Watsonville, CA 95076 USA
(831) 786-2100

Rio del Mar Garden Expansion Project

The Rio del Mar garden, before the expansion project began

It all began in the fall of 2007 when Rio del Mar Elementary School teacher Todd Kitch posted on the Santa Cruz Free Cycle list: WANTED: Compost Bins for School Garden. I responded—since Rio is one of the schools at which I work, and I know Todd—and I said, “Hey Todd, it’s me, Ted. I’ve built a number of compost bins, and I can help.

See pictures of the garden BEFORE this all got underway.

I suggested that OSH or Home Depot would probably be happy to donate materials, too. So I contacted Home Depot, and submitted a proposal. When I met with the Project Coordinator and Store Manager of the Soquel store (41st Ave.), they said, “This is great, and we’re happy to support your garden project… But we’ve never done anything this small—what else do you need for your garden? Wow!

When I reported this to Rio Principal Deb Dorney, she said, “Well I’ve always dreamed of expanding the garden… So the garden expansion project was born. Based on what Deb and Todd described as their wishes for an expanded garden, I developed a project plan (Adobe Reader icon 5.1 MB) and submitted a grant application to the Home Depot Foundation for $3,000. (HD Corporate had already pre-approved the idea of a $3,000 grant to us!)

Alas, it took all year to work out the details and the process with PVUSD M&O (Maintenance and Operations), but we finally got it all worked out, and on Saturday, August 9, 2008, around 20 HD volunteers showed up at Rio with all the materials and tools needed, and an amazing work day happened.

  • The posts were set for the 4-bin composting system.
  • Six new garden beds were built; five of them were installed and filled with soil (the 6th, a long border bed, needed to wait for the chain link fence to be installed).
  • Irrigation lines were installed, so that each garden bed now has its own spigot.
  • The shed was painted barn red—and dubbed “Deb’s Barn!”
  • Lots of general site clean-up happened.
  • Several other garden beds that are in other locations around campus were cleaned out, tilled and soil replenished.

See pictures of the Home Depot Work Day.

Read the Santa Cruz Sentinel article about the work day.

In the two weeks preceding that day, the site preparation work also happened, with additional support from the local business community:

  • Paradise Landscaping removed several trees and a bunch of poison oak and other brush—at a huge discounted rate.
  • Granite Rock came with heavy equipment and did some earth moving to fill a small ravine, level the site, and move the garden shed to a new location—also at a hugely discounted rate.

See pictures of the Paradise Landscaping and Granite Rock crews at work.

Unfortunately, due to complications surrounding district specification requirements for chain link fencing, the fencing did not get installed in the fall. This allowed the deer to attack the garden and decimate the vegies growing there. So the garden was underutilized for most of this school year (2008–2009).

The new fence, installed around the expanded garden area of the Rio del Mar garden.

Finally, in April 2009, progress was made on the fencing: M&O agreed to let us build a wooden fence along the two sides of the garden that face into the school campus, and agreed to assign a crew to install the chain link fencing along the two outer sides of the garden area. During the 1st week of April, M&O crew set the steel posts for the chain link fence. During the 3rd week of April, they set the wooden 4x4 posts for the wooden fence, along with the new gate.

On Saturday, April 25, 2009, the Rotary Club of Capitola-Aptos—under the leadership of Tim Powell, came to the Rio garden and built and painted the wooden fence! On the same day, the M&O crew installed the chain link fence. At last, the fence is in, and “Phase I” of the Rio del Mar Garden Expansion Project is complete!

See pictures of the Rotary Club Work Day.