ENCINITAS — Parents at ParkDale Lane Elementary School had been working to make it happen for a while now. They were trying to get a large organic garden project done, but were having no luck and had no money.
They were able to make some small gardens here and there on their school ground, but nothing large and nothing organic. Giving it another try, they contacted Maripat Lawrence of groOrganic, which installs and maintains organic fruit and vegetable gardens in yards, patios, decks, schools, community centers and health care facilities, inviting her to come out for a consult.
“They let me know that they had tried and failed to get any garden grants and could not afford to buy our garden packages from the school’s budget , but I assured them I would help them and make sure their vision would come to life,” Lawrence said. “As the owner of groOrganic in San Diego, I talked it over with my husband and together we decided that we were going to make sure that their gardens would be done.”
Through this generosity, groOrganic built the school eight custom garden boxes, charging only for the cost of the wood for the boxes. In addition to the garden boxes, the project required soil, seeds, irrigation and more. The Lawrences donated all the labor, delivery and setup as well as personally providing garden seat toppers to the boxes, valued at $150 each.
“With the seat toppers, the students will be able to see and garden with more ease,” Lawrence said. “They had tried with many large companies to get donations but it was not working for them.
“I wrote them a donation request letter and had them send it to a company called Kellogg for their soil, worm castings and plant food,” she said. “Within a matter of two days, Kellogg sent the school two big pallets full of supplies. They are a wonderful company.”
Lawrence also wrote a seed-donation letter to send out for seeds, as the parents also did searches for seed donations. Then with their own maintenance works for the irrigation and with parent volunteers to fill the gardens up, they were done,” Lawrence said. “And now we have amazing organic gardens producing wonderful fruits and veggies right on campus.”
The plan is to have each grade, kindergarten through sixth, have its own planter box and have the whole school participate in these gardens, teaching youngsters what these foods are, where they come from and the value of clean, organic food.
The school has various plans for the produce that they grow, including selling it to the parents, like a farmers market, to raise more money to then put into future garden building.