“Our Pomeroy garden is the heart of the school community. It is a place where you see kids laughing, learning, connecting and exploring,” said Kevin Keegan, principal of the Santa Clara school.
“Our students might be counting caterpillars, planting, picking fruits and vegetables or taking fresh ingredients into our makerspace to cook something special,” continued Keegan.
At Pomeroy’s Community Garden Day on Jan. 28, attended by about 200 parents and children, the students, faculty and staff shared garden pleasures, history and plans for expansion of the almost 30-year-old garden.
“The garden is a fun place to be. I like to plant seeds and look for bugs and worms,” said Sofia, a second grader. “Plants help the environment. We ate pumpkin seeds and tomatoes.”
Finding slugs and worms on scavenger hunts also tops student Alex’s list of garden pleasures. For fifth grader Jaden, it’s planting flowers and seeing how quickly they grow.
“We ate cookies with hot cocoa in the garden,” said Violet, another fifth grader. “Mrs. Audrey made the cookies in the makerspace.”
Inside the makerspace classroom is a portable cooking island purchased through the school district in 2022.
Gardening and cooking teacher Audrey Hinton has been involved with the garden for about five years.
“We have been able to revamp our garden and remake it into an outdoor classroom with the help of a grant from the [Santa Clara County] Open Space Authority,” said Hinton. “Thanks to that funding, we were able to write curriculum for garden and cooking classes for our students.”
“Students are planting more and more of the plants themselves, and we now focus on ingredients that we can use in our cooking classes so they can see the connection of farm to table,” she continued. “We have lots of big ideas for the future and lots of kid power to make them happen!”
Expanding the garden to encompass the entire campus is on the drawing board, awaiting funding. Naturalscape will replace asphalt surfaces, adding space for planting.
“Our garden day is a chance to join with our community partners to celebrate, learn together and have some fun!” said Principal Keegan.
Community partners included the Santa Clara Library bookmobile, City firefighters with an engine truck, master gardeners and composters, Furry Friends dogs for the children to read to and the Santa Clara Beekeeper’s Guild. (Pomeroy became a certified Monarch butterfly waystation in fall of 2022.) The line for free hotdogs and burgers, provided by the PTA, moved quickly.
Pomeroy’s garden was the inspiration of teacher Beth Gibson in 1995.
“After walking by the empty space between the Staff Room and the kindergarten classrooms for months, I knew it’d be a perfect spot for a school garden,” said Gibson, who visited all the gardens in the Santa Clara Unified School District for ideas.
Gibson’s husband, Jim, designed the initial garden plan, implemented by volunteers. Money donated for garden supplies and plants and volunteer hours keep the garden thriving.
“Our garden is a place where people feel seen and safe, and they love to participate in its beauty,” said Hinton.
Pomeroy’s second community garden day of the 2022 – 2023 school year was the kickoff for the school’s February Read-A-Thon fundraiser and celebration of literacy, themed “Reading Helps Us Grow.”
April 29 is the next Pomeroy community-building garden day.