Blossoming Beginnings: Fallbrook STEM First-Graders and Village Garden Club Create Thriving Green Space

The Fallbrook STEM Academy team, Village Garden Club of La Jolla members, and UCCE San Diego Master Gardeners celebrate the completion of their new garden, transformed from a simple plot of dirt into a thriving educational space

What was once a simple plot of dirt has been transformed into a vibrant garden, thanks to the collaborative efforts of Fallbrook STEM Academy first-grade students, the Village Garden Club of La Jolla (VGCLJ), and the expertise of Master Gardeners from UCCE San Diego. Inspired by the first-grade science curriculum on the structure and function of plants, the school sought to create an educational garden space to enhance student learning and engagement.

We have long looked at this plot of dirt and wished we could turn it into a thriving garden,” said Dee Jarvis and Sandra Reilly,  first-grade teachers behind the project from its inception. “The science curriculum on the structure and function of plants truly inspired us to create a hands-on learning environment where our students could observe and interact with the natural world.”

After applying for and receiving a grant from VGCLJ, the students eagerly prepared the plot, planted seeds, and decorated the flower bed. Their enthusiasm and hard work were supported by VGCLJ members Paula McGraime, Jennifer Fries, and Barbara Asman, who provided guidance and resources.

VGCLJ, established in 1974 with an initial membership of 70, has grown substantially over the past 50 years to include 320 members. The club focuses on horticulture, workshops, field trips, and philanthropy, with monthly meetings featuring guest speakers on a variety of fascinating topics. The club’s outreach projects serve veterans, schools, and the broader community, fostering a sense of friendship and shared experiences among its members.

Val Fujihara, a School Garden Consultant from UCCE San Diego Master Gardener, along with Master Gardeners Donna Reese and Sharon Zornes, played a crucial role in turning the vision into reality. They met with the students, discussed the project, and provided hands-on assistance to transform the plot into a beautiful garden.

The first-grade team also extends their gratitude to Grangetto’s in Fallbrook for their generous donation of bark for the garden.

“We want to thank the Master Gardeners for their help and support in bringing our garden to fruition,” said Jarvis. “We are also deeply grateful to VGCLJ for providing the funds to create this magical space for our students.”

This new garden not only enhances the school’s aesthetic but also serves as a dynamic educational tool, offering students a hands-on learning experience about plant life and growth.

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