Rotary helps school garden expand into orchard The club donated 14 fruit bearing trees and the expansion of garden is the result of the joint work of the Rotarians, school faculty and students who had put in their efforts and man hours.

Judy Lutticken (Rotary project manager), Raphael Magante, Seth Francis, Mike Fugua (Rotary president) and Julien Bing plant one of the trees. Photo: James Kaspar
Judy Lutticken (Rotary project manager), Raphael Magante, Seth Francis, Mike Fuqua (Rotary president) and Julien Bing plant one of the trees. Photo: James Kaspar

The Abraxas High School garden is expanding to an orchard, thanks to a donation from the Rotary Club of Rancho Bernardo (San Diego, US – D 5340).

The club donated 14 fruit trees to the school. The new orchard will be planted around the old baseball backstop near the garden.

The school held a dedication ceremony on November 16, where Abraxas students spoke about their work on the garden since it opened in 2015 and 100-year-old Rotarian Joe Max cut the ribbon to the orchard.

Abraxas Principal Alain Henry called the school’s garden project “a perfect example of non-traditional, cross-discipline education that we value here at Abraxas.”

The garden was built and is tended by students in both the diploma programme and the Transitions programme, which is for young adults with special needs.

Since its first crops were planted in 2015, the school has donated about 2,500 pounds of produce to the Backyard Produce Project, which collects and distributes produce to local needy families.

“The community gives to us and we give back to the community,” Henry said.

The donated trees are a Meyer lemon tree, a Mexican key lime tree, a Minneola tangelo tree, two Fuerte avocado trees, a black mission fig tree, a pomegranate tree, a Satsuma Owari tree, a Washington Navel (orange) tree, two Hass avocado trees, a Gordon apple tree, an Arctic Star nectarine tree and a Tropic Snow peach tree.

Henry said he was approached by Michael Fuqua, the Rotary club president, who said the club wanted to do something for the school.

The school wanted to increase its trees, Henry said, so they could give back more to the community.

Fuqua thanked Abraxas students and staff for their planning and labour — and for digging the holes for the trees.

He noted that the project “exemplifies Rotary International’s ‘Making a Difference’ initiative,” where every Rotarian worldwide was asked to plant a tree this year.

“We are excited to kick off this initiative with Abraxas High’s Garden Project,” he said.

Ten Abraxas students who have worked with the garden project since its beginning also spoke at the dedication, giving examples of what work they had done with the project and details about how the garden functions, including its use of all-organic materials.

Over the years, the garden has grown to include an in-ground tilapia fish pond, an aquaponics system, organic compost bins, raised garden beds and a teaching area in the garden.

The garden was built on an unused tennis court in the front corner of campus.

Source:  The San Diego Union-Tribune

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