Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Upland High School Garden Dedication

On Tuesday, June 5th, the folks at Upland High School celebrated the completion of their garden by hosting a garden dedication. English teacher, Mrs. Jennifer McAdams, and Environmental Science teacher, Mr. Bo Whieldon, were instrumental in securing the grant from the Garden in Every School program as well as ensuring the successful completion of the garden.

However, Mrs. McAdams and Mr. Whieldon are quick to point out that the kids deserve all of the credit. The English and Environmental Science students wrote grants, fundraised, created promotional videos, constructed vegetable beds, installed irrigation, raked mulch, planted trees & seeds, built a fence, dug up rocks (sometimes boulders!), and watered and weeded the garden. They did a super job and should be very proud of themselves!

During the dedication ceremony IEUA President, Mr. Terry Catlin, spoke to the crowd about how pleased he was with the school garden and the importance of teaching the next generation about water conservation.

Student Body President and gardener extraordinaire, Garrett Lee, spoke about the benefits of the garden and how working on it has influenced what he will study in college.

Mr. Rick Abilez, Grounds Foreman Supervisor for Upland Unified School District, was honored by being recognized for his assistance and enthusiasm with the Garden in Every School program. Mr. Andrew Kanzler, the Garden in Every School Coordinator, presented Mr. Abilez with a certificate of gratitude at the end of the ceremony and praised his hard work and willingness to help.

Toward the end of the event, the participants moved from the cafeteria to the garden for the ribbon cutting ceremony--Mrs. McAdams did the honors! Representatives from several public agencies were there to commemorate the garden as well, including the Superintendent of Upland Unified School District, Mr. Gary Rutherford, Upland City Council Member, Mr. Gino Filippi, and IEUA President, Mr. Terry Catlin.

The kids were excited to share their knowledge and experience with us regarding the garden and they were generous enough to share the fruits of their labor!

Several students emptied out the potato bins they planted in January and passed out fresh potatoes.

It was great day and a great experience, not only for the teachers and kids, but for the Garden in Every School staff as well. Working with the people at Upland High School was a joy and makes us excited to build more school gardens! We wish them the best of luck with their garden and future endeavors.

The Three Sisters: Squash, Beans, and Corn (Maize)

An agricultural staple of the North American Native American diet was the intercropping of squash, beans, and corn. The combination of these plant types was so important to Native American culture that it took on a spiritual nature. In the Iriquois mythology, squash, beans, and corn are three inseperable sisters who must grow together and depend on each other for survival. The Three Sisters agricultural technique was practiced by Native Americans from Mesoamerica all the way to the Great Lakes in Michigan.
 Photo provided by Sarah Braun
The Three Sisters intercropping system is efficient both ecologically and nutritionally. Typically the three plants are planted together at the top of a raised mound. The corn provides a tall sturdy base for the beans to climb allowing them access to sunlight; the beans in turn fortify the corn stalk making it less vulnerable to wind. The squash leaves grow and spread along the ground which blocks sunlight from reaching the earth creating natural weed suppression. The shade provided by the squash leaves also creates a cool microclimate under the canopy of the leaves and helps the soil retain moisture allowing roots access to water for a longer period of time. Beans fix nitrogen into the soil, which provides added nutrients for the squash and corn plants. Some tribes add a fourth sister, a bee plant, which attracts pollinators to the plants and adds to the ecological richness of the intercropping. This symbiotic planting will allow all three crops to extend their growing season while using less water and nitrogen imputs.
Nutritionally, this is an efficient combination because beans contain amino acids that are lacking in the corn plant. When eaten together they create a more balanced diet (

If you would like to plant your own Three Sisters garden, follow the design provided by Renee's Garden in the following link: