Garden classroom to bloom

A new garden will sow fresh learning at Mira Loma Middle School, yielding lessons on cause and effect, trial and error, and responsibility.


The nutrient-rich soil laboratory is nearly finished and will be seeded this spring, said Mira Loma Middle Principal Mary Boules.  Plans call for a mix of student-grown plants and food.


"The garden means a hands-on opportunity to learn," Ms. Boules said.  "Students will discover, through trial and error and experimentation, what grows well and what doesn't."  The project will help teach science, agriculture and a range of life skills.


Seventh- and eighth-graders will be accountable for tending the soil and plants, she said, cultivating responsibility, environmental stewardship, and problem-solving skills.  For example: "If worms are eating my plants, what should I do?"


The garden is the brainchild of two instructors at Mira Loma Middle: Jorge Sanchez, a social studies teacher, and Matt Ruiz, who teaches math.  The pair had a green leafy vision for an empty patch of dirt behind the library, Ms. Boules said.  The two teachers designed the garden, and, over the past few months, JUSD provided materials and helped build the planting beds.


Mr. Sanchez has dedicated the garden to Jennifer McCoy, a special needs student he met years ago when he worked campus security at Jurupa Middle School.  Jennifer, who befriended Mr. Sanchez during her lunch breaks, often along with her friends, did not survive a heart procedure.


Plans call for 12 garden beds, soon to sprout a range of plants, fruits and vegetables, from succulents to carrots and cherry tomatoes.  Student research and input from science teachers will help guide the plant selection.


STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) teachers have proposed an area to showcase photosynthesis and butterfly pollination of flowers, Ms. Boules said.  Another part of the garden will impart ongoing practical lessons about agriculture, water, healthy eating, gardening, maintenance, and life cycles.


The garden will grow and evolve along with student learning, the principal added.  "That's going to be part of the fun – the experiments."