We are all very excited about the progress that has been taking place at the Sustainable Leadership Academy at AVCS!

The high school students have been meeting at lunch time to explore Christian Leadership Principles, how they support good stewardship of all our resources, and how to put them into action on some local sustainability/green projects. They have decided to focus on a healthy food/community garden project to help stimulate local backyard food production and put healthy organic foods on the tables of the needy.

The concept is a decentralized community garden, where families and local groups would be given training and resources such as seeds and seedlings to grow in their own backyards and then meet on a regular basis to share ideas and the food products via a food exchange.

The training will cover:

The Principles of Sustainable Agriculture-Simple, Smart Stewardship

How to Build a Healthy Soil

Drip Irrigation-Gray-water and Backyard Water Conservation

Seed Selection- Heirlooms, GMO’s, and Beyond

Maintenance and Production Challenges in a Desert Ecosystem

Critters- Managing the Good, Bad, and Ugly – Integrated Pest Management

Seed Saving

Home Food Preservation

A Healthy Diet

Participants will be asked to collaborate in the following ways:

Participate in the training, part of which will be available online, and agree to maintain a record of maintenance and production of specific seed varieties, so that we can determine the most productive seeds for our local environment

Sharing the food, their knowledge, and inspiration with others

Maintaining good records of their garden maintenance challenges and production so that we can build a database of the best varieties for our environment

Saving seed to share with others

This is a student- led and student inspired project, with a High School team setting the vision and partnering with several other community organizations. Current partners and roles are:

El Faro Ministry, San Ignacio Baja Mexico- to help this mission with developing a Community Garden in this severely economically depressed Baja town, our SLA team will share information and resources with students at the local boarding school that accommodates children from the unique culture of local Vaquero ranching communities of Sierra, San Francisco, and Santa Marta

Rain Bird Irrigation- provided a donation of micro sprinklers and drip supplies and training on irrigation, installation, and maintenance

Imperial Sprinklers- provided a donation of irrigation supplies and installation support

The Sustainable Learning Center- provided a venue for stewardship workshops and demonstrations of composting and cold frame construction

High Desert Wood Workers- provided expertise and support on woodworking projects

Apple Valley Premier Academy- assisted with building vermiculture boxes and cold frame components in their wood shop classes

The Green Maven (a community garden project)- provided instruction and assistance in this entire process

Progress so far includes a work day at the Slade’s Sustainable Learning Center where students recycled a couch (dumped in the desert) and bedsprings to become cold frames, which are basically mini green houses. They also built a composting bin from used pallets and assembled a commercially manufactured composter while implementing the basic principles of sustainability to keep it simple, be smart, and be good stewards. The used couch was a fantastic example of a simple, smart way to find a good use for something discarded in the desert (good stewardship by up-cycling). The day ended with a stew made from all organic items from a co-op from down the hill, demonstrating how amazing it is to cook with fresh items from the garden.

The students plan to collaborate with various high desert organizations, such as High Desert Wood Workers, Apple Valley Premier Academy Students, and The Green Maven.

The next step is to get some heirloom seeds started in the cold frames. Our SLA Team will contact sponsors for irrigation and other supplies and begin the growing so we can test out the best seeds for our environment and share the knowledge with families and other community groups.

A mission trip to San Ignacio Mexico over spring break was completed with one student representative from the school, as well as some other members of the High Desert, to help build a community garden in that area and learn from the local Vaquero Communities. Items were donated by Rain Bird, Imperial Sprinklers, and Bakers Seeds. The project will consist of participating families and organizations asked to keep records on the success and production on the various seed varieties and learn how to collect their own seeds to pass forward this vital resource to future gardeners.