BTA Garden inspires local school

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Representatives from Van Wig Elementary, in between research trips to the local arboretums, visited San Gabriel High School (SGHS) last month to take a closer look at the school’s garden in front of the B-Building.

Recently, a grant was given to Catalyst SGV, a company behind organic and welfare projects, by the Golden State Environmental Justice Alliance. The grant was for a specific kind of project—a garden. Van Wig Elementary in La Puente was chosen for the project.

Garden Coach and Lead Catalyst of Catalyst SGV, Jesse Chang, was the garden tour guide.  

Business and Technology Academy (BTA) has been taking care of the garden for five years now and the garden has been open to volunteer work on Thursdays.

“I think one of the advantages of [SGHS] is that it has space,” Chang said.

The garden is less than one-fourth of an acre in size and includes a rainforest section that refills and recharges habitats and their water table. Alongside various crops, trees have been planted as well, in memory of teachers who have passed away. Academy Coordinator Nicole Manalang is proud of the garden and its five year history at SGHS.

“I feel that the garden was made to inspire others,” Manalang said. “So that to see others getting ideas from the hard work of the BTA kids and garden club is fantastic.”

During the tour, the representatives of Van Wig spoke of their streak of “brown thumb” with organic matter. The Van Wig representatives, teachers Maria Koreen, Wendy Anson, and Marta Castellanos, gave the SGHS garden high praise and said it was inspiring.

“Seeing the garden in a school setting made me realize that we can do it too,” Castellanos said. “It was fun to be able to pick my own onions and even plant some broccoli.”

The San Gabriel High School garden was an outstanding example of what a garden may look like at a school site,” Koreen said. “Building a garden from the ground up will be an amazing experience for our little [Transitional Kindergarten] and Kindergarten students.

“The garden is inspiring.” Anson said. “I learned a couple of tricks to keep the weeds down, too. And the mosaic tiles add a wonderful touch. For a garden in transition, it looks fabulous.”

Chang was pleased by the Van Wig teachers’ reactions and experiences.

“It’s kind of cool to see this garden inspire other schools to do something similar,” Chang said.

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