By Farah McDill
Center for Green Schools UTC Fellow for Sacramento City Unified School District
There is no better way to start the Halloween weekend than to celebrate the opening of a community garden. Saturday, Oct. 29 was a beautiful crisp fall morning at Camellia Basic Elementary School, where I had the honor of participating in the ribbon cutting event for the new community garden. Through a wonderful partnership between the school’s PTA, Sacramento’s Parks and Recreation Department and neighborhood community organizations over the past three years, the garden has been completed and ready for seeds. The garden has a tool shed, one large raised bed, picnic tables, compost bins and 12 large garden plots, six of which are designated for the schools use.
City Councilman Kevin McCarty hosted the event demonstrating his dedication to community gardens across his district and the city. I was happy to be on hand representing the superintendent’s office to show our support for gardens and the experiential learning they make possible. The Camellia Basic principal, Kathy Kingsbury, was overjoyed that all the hard work had finally come to fruition and the students would soon be benefiting from the partnerships that were developed. Bill Maynard, city parks and recreation garden coordinator, was a central leader in pulling the project together. Bill spoke about the possible benefits for the neighborhood community and the partnerships and friendships developed throughout the process. Laura Rios represented the Camellia Basic PTA and after three years of hard work to get the garden project in place, she was elated with the final product.
The event was completed with the official ribbon cutting and opening of the garden. However, this was not the conclusion of the day’s celebrations; it may have been considered by some as the beginning. Following the ribbon cutting event, everyone moved over to the Camellia Basic fall festival. Students, families, and community members gathered to celebrate the harvest season with food, games and activities focused on the changing season. I give the caramel apples two thumbs up!