April 25, 2013
Tiobbe Barron, OVN correspondent
Meiners Oaks Elementary is trying to win a beehive for its Food for Thought garden.
“Food for Thought has given our students the chance to grow amazing fruits, veggies and flowers,” says Ojai resident Katie Metzger. “We’d love to add a beehive to the mix as they are critical to pollination, and hence the health of our land and community.”
The contest, sponsored by Attune Foods and the Rodale Institute’s Honeybee Conservancy, offers a beehive as the grand prize.
Visit the contest website before April 30 to vote for Meiners Oaks Elementary and improve the school’s odds of winning. As of press time, they were in second place, two votes behind New Hope Christian Academy of Memphis.
“We have a great pool of volunteers that turn out to help in the garden. They regularly come up with great ways to expand and enrich the garden-based learning program,” said Food for Thought board member Kevin White, a teacher at Summit Elementary School. “(A beehive) will be a teaching tool to show the kids the important connection bees make by helping flowers become fruits. It is so important that we have bees to pollinate our fruits.”
Meiners Oaks Elementary has had a garden for more than a decade.
“Meiners Oaks (Elementary School) has the largest garden in the (Ojai Unified School) District,” said Food for Thought Garden Coordinator David White. “It has 12 raised beds and two ‘food forest’ areas with fruit trees inter-planted with strawberries and artichokes, as well as annual vegetables. We have an active composting area, a seating area below a beautiful wisteria arbor. There is also a large worm bin which the sixth-grade leadership students feed with lunchtime leftovers.”
Current crops in the garden include grapes, figs, apples, kale, peas, pears, carrots, beans, celery, beets, strawberries, guava, cilantro, beans and more. In addition to the garden curriculum for kindergarten, first and fifth grades, there is a weekly lunchtime Garden Club that is open to all students attending both Meiners Oaks Elementary and Topa Topa Elementary schools.
“Many students have become regulars at Garden Club,” said White. “They come week after week and help work the compost, pick fruits and veggies, sample the produce, help plant and also just enjoy the beauty of the garden.”