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Local Landscapers Donate Gardens to Area Schools

Marsetti Inc. will bring fruit plants and vegetable beds to all eight district elementary schools. The "garden tour" started on Saturday at El Crystal Elementary School.

Inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama’s vocal support of organic food gardens in schools in an effort to fight childhood obesity, a San Bruno landscaping company is donating organic fruit plants and vegetable beds to the district’s eight elementary schools.

Marsetti, Inc., made the first stop on what it’s calling its “garden tour” on Saturday at on Saturday.

The gardens will include strawberries, varieties of local lettuces, peppers, pumpkins, squash, and local heirloom tomatoes.

Ladybugs and praying mantises will be introduced to the gardens in lieu of potentially harmful pesticides.

El Crystal Principal Skip Johnson said the garden complements the school’s composting program.

“It’s a great thing for the kids,” Johnson said.

“How many kids see where food comes from?

“They buy it at Safeway or they or they buy it at wherever they go. This way they can grow it, harvest it and eat it and plus it’s good from them to get their hands dirty and learn the difference between soil and dirt.”

Johnson said all students at his school from kindergarten through sixth grade will be involved in the gardening process. He said the students will use digital microscopes to learn more about the soil their food grows in.

A Marsetti press release said the purpose of bringing the gardens to local schools is to “educate children about healthful, locally grown fruit and vegetables at a time when obesity and diabetes have become a national concern.”

Shortly after her husband’s inauguration in 2009, First Lady Obama recruited her daughter Malia’s fifth grade classmates from a Washington D.C. elementary school to help plant an organic garden outside the White House. She said at the time that “(our) hope is that through children, they will begin to educate their families and that will, in turn, begin to educate our communities.”

Joe Capote August 29, 2011 at 11:57 PM
This is another excelolent example of getting outside resources to improve education and programs within the district. John Muir has had success in getting grant funding for their gardents and programs as well. El Crystal's Danford Center for Innovation, a colloaborative effort between the Danford Foundation and the district to bring technology and training to students and teachers, shows real progress can be made using this approach. Kudos to a job well done.
Heidi Beck August 30, 2011 at 12:18 AM
El Crystal is lucky to have so many apple trees and nice garden beds -- I hope that teachers have time in their busy schedule to get kids out in the garden, or that some kids, staff members and family volunteers have time after school to keep up the gardens and enjoy the bounty and not let things go to waste.
Joe Capote August 30, 2011 at 02:29 AM
I think parents (past and present) are an excellent resource and want to help on projects such as this. I know of many parents who volunteer or have offered to volunteer for the El Crystal gardens alone. I think John Muir had a very good turnout at their beautification, which included planting of shrubs and flowers. I, too, hope the bounty continues!
chobe August 30, 2011 at 02:39 AM
What a great idea to bring this program to local schools. Marsetti and the school teachers participating in this program are to be commended.
Heidi Beck August 30, 2011 at 02:46 AM
My kids (now young adults) went to El Crystal, and in the past, some years there were teachers and parent volunteers who were really into gardening and some years not. And now that curriculum is so carefully prescribed with pacing guides, etc., thanks to all the emphasis on testing, there just isn't as much time for the learning by doing that is so important for kids. And I remember when the kitchen still served meals cooked from scratch -- not heated-up frozen foods. If there were too many apples for the kids to eat fresh, they could be cooked into applesauce. What do they do with the fruit now? Anyway, I do hope there are folks who like to garden and have the time to volunteer, because it would be a terrible shame for the donated plants to wither and die from lack of attention.

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