Along Defunct 710 Freeway Extension Route, School Farm Grounds Young People and Gets Back to the Earth

Published : Sunday, April 21, 2019 | 5:52 AM

It’s time to get back to the Earth and the Waverly Organic Garden in Pasadena is among local projects leading the way.

Waverly Organic Garden is a verdant spot of land along South Pasadena Avenue opposite the Huntington Hospital drivers zoom by night and day rushing northward to accelerate onto the 210 freeway

It’s one of the nonprofits near the 710 freeway stub that will have an opportunity to remain, if all goes with Caltrans negotiations.

Waverly Garden manager-teacher Barbara Ayers says it’s good for students of all ages to get their hands in dirt.

If for no other reason than to put the cellphone down for an hour or so, the students connect at the organic farm. The word “grounding” applies on several levels, Ayers said. She started 12 years ago with the farm and it has become a positive source of friendship — and revenue also.

The students are learning how to grow items they can and do sell in their own farmer’s market.

How do they learn that?

“We try to be super experiential we don’t want to talk a whole lot,” Ayers said. “We want to do a whole lot. I want people to be plugged into the seasons and not the phones.”

The students get to nurture something, see the power and miracle of sustainability at work.

“I think it’s something we’ve lost, to be out with our hands in the ground,” Ayers said. “Watching that miracle a seed turn into a plant, or into food or a beautiful flower, or hatch a chick and watch it turn into a chicken, I think it’s something we’ve lost.”

In many cases the curriculum relates to the social studies theme.

“The farm dictates the curriculum, there are things that have to be done at certain times, like start the tomato seedlings,” Ayers said.

They grow the food and turn it into fabulous creations that inspire friendship and nourishment. They make their own pasta, pizza and they even grew a pizza sauce garden for the perfect ingredients.

Not only is there eating, but there’s a lot of learning going on using math to calculate crop yields, make planting charts and graphs, science, language arts, nutrition and health, creative arts and phys ed.

The farm has a flock of chickens, who the kids inherited from a former high school student who couldn’t take them to college.  Before you knew it Waverly students started running a farmer’s market.

“Our thing is ‘Grow it, cook it and eat it with friends,’” Ayers said.

The school has kids from preschool all the way through high school and the garden-oriented curriculum changes as the students progress up the grade levels.

Middle School is an elective and the last class of the day and they’re hungry, Ayers said. So it’s a more nutrition-based experience.  Ayers said and with middle schoolers they do an activity and eat something. They’ll grow the food and create something to eat.

What are some of Ayers’ hopes?

“Maybe one of our kids can take inspiration from our farm choose a life off the land,” Ayers said. “Of course most of our kids won’t be farmers, they’ll live in the suburbs or cities, but maybe they’ll remember and grow at least a little of their own food in their yard.”

For more about the Waverly School Garden click here.

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