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T.W.I.G This Week In The Garden...

December 2017

There are a lot of changes happening in the school garden this year, it’s exciting, it’s hard work, sometimes a bit chaotic but I believe that by the end of the school year we will have a program that we serve both students and teachers better than ever before!  I have a lot of exciting news to share so apologies for the long edition!

We had our first garden committee meeting in November.  We had a group of 8 parents and grandparents attend, all of whom are committed to helping the garden move forward.  The next meeting is this Tuesday December 5th at 1pm and will take place either in the garden or science lab (weather dependent).  We are still looking for more people to join us so if you are interested in finding out more please do come along.  We meet for one hour on the first Tuesday of each month, usually the hour before pick up.  You do not have to be available to work in the garden to be on the committee, we need lots of help and input behind the scenes.  The agenda this month will include updates on our current projects, obtaining certification for a butterfly garden, moving the garden into the classroom, future garden events, exciting grant news and more.  Too often we see that school gardens are not sustainable as they rely too much on the enthusiastic participation of one or two individuals.  The development of a garden committee is one step in making sure that the Malcom garden will be around for many years to come!

Following our last committee meeting we have moved forward on using SignUp Genius to fill our volunteer spots in the garden. This year we have had many parents offer to help in the garden but they are unable to help on a regular, weekly basis.  This has been made it difficult to ensure cover during the student recess time, as well as lots of time requesting and confirming help.  We are hoping that SignUp Genius will help this situation or at least make it less labor intensive to get the help we need! Moving forward this will be our communication method for all requests for help in the garden (although I will continue to include some of the opportunities in TWIG too).  Everyone who has already volunteered to help in the garden has been added to the distribution list.  If you would like to see the current volunteer opportunities on SignUp Genius please click on this link.

We are learning and testing the system this month, and hope to start using it for all volunteer needs starting in January.   We do not have sign ups for the upcoming recess help, please contact me if you are available to volunteer. Special thanks to Jill for setting SignUp Genius up.

The Malcom School Garden now has its own email address!  Our new email address is and you will see it on all our communications moving forward.  If you want to contact me directly you may still do so at or

The Succulent Pumpkin Fundraiser was an amazing success.  I’m sure everyone will agree that the centerpieces were stunning.  Thank you to Marti and Jill for heading up the fundraiser and working countless hours to help students create their masterpieces, to the 5th grade classes and the green team who helped create the centerpieces, and to the Malcom community who came out to support the fundraiser…we sold out quickly!!  Before expenses (which were minimal thanks to the donation of pumpkins from the new Trader Joes store in SJC) we raised just over $1000 for future garden projects!!

Innovation OC – Voices in the Garden  Cox Innovations Grants were awarded last Thursday.  Cox had $60000 budgeted for Innovation Grants to be split between 6 school districts. Each school can get a maximum of $5,000.  CUSD submitted 16 grants, 12 of which were funded including a team grant from Malcom elementary called Innovation OC – Voices in the Garden! Collaborating with IPads!  These grants submitted by Elisa Slee with the help of Jan Mortenson, Kara Hudson and Margie Black received perfect scores of 10 out of 10 by the judges and were fully funded.  Both Irvine Unified and Laguna Beach Unified believe this is a model program for all districts to replicate.  So what is Voices in the Garden?  The grant will be used to purchase 6 IPads which will be used by students to take pictures and record their voices in the Garden.  Families will be able to use their phones, access a QR code, and listen to children’s voices describing our garden.  This will turn our garden into a living interactive space that reaches all families and will allow students to share their STEAM knowledge and their creativity with our entire school community.  Voices and photos will  change with the season making our garden into a living, interactive museum filled with children’s voices!  The grant will also cover the cost of bringing a Traveling Scientist to the school to help kick start the project by using hands on activities to teach the Next Generation Science Standards in Life Science to K and 1st grade students.  Congratulations and thank you to Mrs. Slee and our wonderful teachers!

4th and 5th Grade Entrepreneurial Experience – After the success of last year’s program, Marti is once again running the Entrepreneurial Experience for the upper grades. Information has been sent to all 4th and 5th grade teachers to share with their students. The first meeting for students to find out more will be this Wednesday December 6th from 12.05 to 12.45 in the Art Room and students have until Dec 11th to sign up.  The program is limited to 24 scholars unless she can get 4 more parent volunteers to help which would allow the program to expand to 36 students.  If you are interested in helping or finding out more please contact Marti Bruno.

Succulent Garden Project – Marti had a meeting with our succulent garden designer, Lisa, and we will be moving forward with the project during the next semester to create our underwater succulent scene.  We have been collecting and rooting succulents that look like coral, seaweed and under water wildlife, along with collecting donations of shells and rocks.   We still have not had any success in acquiring an anchor so please let me know if you can help finding one for us!  We are still looking for donations for our underwater masterpiece including shells, pebbles, decomposed granite, succulents, and succulent soil.  If you have anything we can use you can leave them in the school garden or email for Malcom garden for us to organize a time to come and collect them.  We will also be looking for families willing to help with the project, clearing the beds, preparing the beds and help with the planting.  It will be a great opportunity to learn about succulents from an expert!

Students in the Garden -  Students have been busy planting seeds in the garden over recent weeks, rooting our left over succulents from the fundraiser, and thinning and transplanting the seedlings so each of the plants have a chance to flourish and grow.  A small group of students are still working on the Chicken fostering program, the school district has given us the OK, we now just have to get the approval of the city.  We have more 4th and 5th grade students coming to the garden at recess than ever before, many of whom were 3rd grade garden leaders.  These students are knowledgeable, responsible, independent workers and are becoming valuable members of the garden team.  This week students will have fun in the garden as we harvest pumpkins seeds and smash pumpkins to go into our compost pile.  The garden will be open on Tuesday at first recess for all 3rd grade garden leaders, 4th and 5th grade (volunteers needed) but will be closed on Thursday while interested parents visit Redhill Elementary in Tustin to see their in class garden program in action.  If you are interested visiting with us we will be leaving Malcom at 9am.

A special thank you to Peter who has built a compost sifter for us!  The compost sifter will help us sift out larger pieces that are taking longer to break down and will be fun for the students to use.  Our compost is a key ingredient to our gardens success and is created out of garden waste, vegetable waste which Marti collects from the farmers markets, and fruit, vegetable and garden waste from our own homes.  If you would like to donate your grass clippings or fruit and vegetable waste we would love to have it!  Just remember no citrus.  Marti has also restarted our worm bins so we are hoping to start collected this “black gold” in a few months.  The students love worms and are very happy to have them return to our composting program.

Gerhard Garden Bulletin Board  This is now being kept up to date by Jill, please stop by to see what is happening in the garden!

Ecology Center Teacher and Volunteer training - the next training will be at the Ecology Center on Thursday December 7th from 3.30.  All interested teachers and parents are invited to attend.  The theme of this session is Soil, Seeds and water. These trainings combine hands-on organic garden skills with demo lessons and K-12 curriculum work groups.

Upcoming events

Tuesday 5th Dec               1-2pm                 Garden Committee Meeting

Tuesday 5th  Dec 9.30 – 10.30       3rd grade garden leaders (all), 4th and 5th grade in the garden.  Parent Volunteers needed.

Wed 6th Dec                     12.05-12.45       4th and 5th grade entrepreneur experience meeting for students and interested parents

Thursday 7th Dec             9 to @12 noon  Visit to Redhill Elementary

Thursday 7th Dec             3.30 to 5pm       Ecology Center teacher and volunteer garden training, including demo lessons.

Tuesday 12th Dec             9.30 – 10.30       3rd grade garden leaders form Mrs Thomas and Mrs Yanaura’s class, 4th and 5th grade.

                                                                        Parent volunteer needed.

Thursday 14th Dec           9.30 – 10.30       3rd grade garden leaders form Mrs Thomas and Mrs Yanaura’s class, 3rd grade students, 4th and 5th grade.

                                                                        Parent volunteers needed.

As 2017 comes to a close, I would like to thank everyone for their support this year.   I am looking forward to seeing where we go in 2018!

With best wishes for the holiday season.


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