[Sdpg] News Story about Joan Stevens/Arcadia teacher struggles to save school permaculture garden

Wesley Roe and Santa Barbara Permaculture Network lakinroe at silcom.com
Sun Jun 16 08:52:35 PDT 2013

Arcadia teacher struggles to save school permaculture garden
By James Figueroa, Staff Writer

Biology teacher Joan Stevens is trying to save the permaculture garden she cultivated at Arcadia High School from becoming concrete planter boxes as the school modernizes, Thursday, June 13, 2013. (SGVN/Staff Photo by Sarah Reingewirtz)

Biology students pull weeds Thursday, June 13, 2013 in a permaculture garden at Arcadia High School that biology teacher Joan Stevens is trying to save from becoming concrete planter boxes as the school modernizes. 

Gallery: Arcadia High School's permaculture garden
ARCADIA - The permaculture garden at Arcadia High School is hidden behind a tall, red picket fence. It's overgrown and many students don't even realize it's there.

Its wild look and lily-padded pond also clash with the carefully manicured trees, small bushes and clean concrete benches that mark the landscape throughout the rest of the campus.

However, the garden's existence is important enough to biology teacher Joan Stevens that she's trying to save it from being bulldozed as part of major renovation and construction at the school.

"It's not an aesthetic that everyone likes," Stevens said. "I recognize that my aesthetic is different than what the school is trying to create."

But perma-culture gardens have also grown in popularity, and Stevens enjoys teaching her students about sustainable practices, such as leaving tree cuttings on the ground to act as mulch.

"It's amazing. It's gorgeous, why would they tear this down?" sophomore Josh Bay said Thursday, after helping out on some maintenance on the last day of school.

Sitting on a plot of land between classroom buildings, the garden was also next to an old greenhouse that was damaged during windstorms in 2011. The greenhouse has now been torn down as part of the renovation work.

Given two weeks to come up with a plan to save the garden, Stevens - with the help of landscape architect Marco Barrantes - has submitted a proposal to school administrators to add a semicircular amphitheater and teaching platform that would be part of an outdoor classroom.

Anyone from math to English teachers could then use that space for lessons.

Stevens has already received positive feedback from the science department and Principal Brent Forsee, who told her the idea is viable if it's not too costly.

"He said if it's comparable, then great, let's do this," Stevens said.

Foresee, who participated in Arcadia's graduation ceremony Friday, couldn't be reached for comment.

Arcadia Unified School District declined comment in an email from Assistant Superintendent Christina Aragon, who noted the plan is under review.

The district is performing construction through Measure I, a $218 million bond program passed by voters in 2006.

While the proposal to save the garden might work, it will require some help by other teachers and possibly student clubs to keep it maintained, and it will have to fit in with the rest of the campus instead of being fenced off.

That means letting the garden take on a larger role as part of Arcadia's school culture.

"It's up to me to let go of my garden," Stevens said.

Read more:http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_23470632/arcadia-teacher-struggles-save-school-permaculture-garden#ixzz2WOPiK8ko
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