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Learning and Leading
By April Philips Design Works, Inc.

Learning and Leading

April Philips Design Works donated design services to help create an edible outdoor classroom for Miller Creek Middle School, located in San Raphael, Calif. The garden setting gives students the opportunity to learn from their teachers and visiting chefs about healthy habits and edible plants, and they can also give their parents and family members a tour of the classroom, demonstrating the knowledge and skills gained during class.


In the summer of 2010, April Philips Design Works (APDW), in conjunction with Miller Creek Middle School and numerous donors and volunteers, designed and completed the Edible Garden at Miller Creek Middle School in San Rafael, California. The idea for the garden originated from a sixth grader at the school inspired by First Lady Michelle Obama and Chef Jamie Oliver. The student presented the idea to the school's principal and spoke to school district leaders and community stakeholders to raise the $30,000 seed money for the project. The concept, modelled loosely on the principles of restaurateur and activist Alice Waters' Edible School Garden, creates an engaging space used for eco-literacy education and in promoting a healthy lifestyle through eating, science, and health.

Chefs are invited to weekend events to impart cooking skills on the students. Self-harvesting and cooking experiences engage the students to appreciate the garden's farm-to-table benefits. The local climate is mild and suitable for year round outdoor education, allowing the students to experience the annual cycle of growing organic food. The 4,200 square-foot space is 100% organic and produces approximately 1200 lbs. of food annually. The design by APDW, with some student input, is composed of 25 vegetable planter boxes, a small orchard, a green-house, a special herb planter, and a "Woolly Pocket" green wall. The garden is irrigated with an on-site rain cistern, which has the capacity to hold 3,000 gallons of water.



Learning and Leading

The garden contains 25 vegetable planter boxes, a small orchard, and a special planter area dedicated to herbs. The plants chosen for the edible classroom include beans, carrots, chamomile, chard, cucumber, garlic, lavender, potatoes, spinach, squash, tomatoes, sunflowers, coneflowers, and several orchard trees.


The garden has become an outdoor laboratory where the school weaves nature into the curriculum to learn about the ecological cycle of plants, habitat, pollinators, and local culinary plants. The harvest is shared with students and their families during the spring and summer. In addition to educational benefits, the garden strengthens interaction among students, families, and community, fostering all to make healthier and sustainable decisions down the road.



As seen in LASN magazine, June 2019.



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October 15, 2019, 5:05 am PDT

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