By: Young Kim
On March 24 at 3PM, students of Valencia High School participated in the grand opening of the school’s new community garden run in collaboration by two school clubs, CITE and RAISE. Upon the opening day of the students’ hard work, influential community leaders such as Mayor Craig Green of Placentia and Mayor Peggy Huang of Yorba Linda came to visit in order to present community leadership awards to the club presidents Arushi Somani and David Chan.
Located near the science buildings on campus, the community garden transformed the once run-down landscape into a flourishing source of nutrition and symbol of sustainability. Members of CITE and RAISE worked throughout the year having to deal with the restrictions of the pandemic. Yet, the two clubs were able to transform the overgrown weed-filled land into a clear opening perfect for the raised bed gardens that were presented during the ceremony. Arushi Somani, President of CITE quoted, “Creating this community garden has been such a rewarding experience in seeing all of our collective efforts and hard work pay off in benefitting the campus community. I hope that this new addition to Valencia becomes a key part of our campus, student involvement in nature, and awareness of the importance of environmental education for years to come.”
The established guests gathered to cut a red ribbon to symbolize the official establishment of Valencia’s garden. Guests were then guided through the garden with different assortments of vegetables and flowers and were also given the opportunity to put the compost from bins directly into the garden, as well as plant a few plants themselves.
When asking Mayor Craig Green on his sentiments on the garden’s impact he stated, “I believe if you take care of Mother Earth, she’s going to take care of you.” He believed that the impact of Valencia’s Community Garden could influence other schools around the district to go through with a similar path focusing on teaching sustainability to students. “With more students working together, it will make the earth a better place.”
According to Leah Shafer of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, studies have shown that having a garden can only be a positive externality towards the school community. The produce grown from the community garden will be used by the culinary arts class as well as students who want to learn more about creating a sustainable food source. Shafer quotes, “Schools can — and many argue should — play a critical role in shifting children’s perceptions of food and enhancing access to healthful foods (…) But the way schools traditionally teach nutrition isn’t working.”