More than 80 people attended a “Community Conversation” on June 1 to hear a presentation by Santa Clara Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of School Support and District Development Andrew Lucia and Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Kathie Kanavel. Within that presentation, Lucia and Kanavel discussed the past, present and future of the 11-acre Full Circle Farm site at Peterson Middle School.
For 10 years, Sustainable Community Gardens (SCG) has operated Full Circle Farm, which over the years has developed to include educational outreach, community gardens, a community supported agriculture program, volunteer program, farm tours and an animal assisted happiness program. However, as SCG’s lease ends in July, the district has decided to absorb the farm and determine the best way to use the space for both students and the community at large.
“We, as a district, would like to go out and do some master planning so that we are using the space to the best of our ability so the resources that we’re providing for the students and the community are maximized,” said Lucia. “We think that maybe that space can be used differently–in a way that is going to be beneficial and honor all the spaces. We know that we need fields for recreation. We know that we need to continue a farm presence. We know that we have a huge Laurelwood school that’s cresting 700 students now and we’re looking at this property here and the Patrick Henry site as a future elementary site to ease that large school that wasn’t built for 700 kids. So, we want to do this in a way that’s beneficial for all.”
As part of the conversation, community members took part in small, group discussions focused on four topics relating to the property’s future: educational vision, volunteer opportunities, community accessibility, and community and business partnerships.
“We have a mission/vision for the district,” said Kanavel, “and our goal for the science and environmental studies in our district is to develop students who are environmentally wise, conscious and capable under increasingly challenging environmental conditions … It’s very important to us to have opportunities for children who have never had opportunities, as Andrew said, to get their hands dirty, get their butts dirty and learn about the environment, and protect it as well as how it can provide for them and their families.”
Lucia said the ideas manifested during the discussion went beyond the district’s expectations and that there will be additional community conversations about the property in the near future. All feedback obtained will be used by the farm planning team and educational services staff to plan for the immediate, interim and long-term programs at the location and the ideas generated during the conversation will be available on the district website on or before June 16. A survey on the future of the property is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/FarmatPeterson and will be open to the public until June 30. To view a PowerPoint of the presentation or to see a video taken at the forum, visit www.santaclarausd.org/farm.