Crisp-looking lettuce and herbs poked up from neat rows of raised beds made of galvanized metal when they cut the ribbon Saturday at Guerneville School’s new outdoor garden classroom.
More than 60 people turned out for a look at the new classroom where Guerneville students will learn how to grow healthy food using eco-friendly garden technology.
Guerneville School Superintendent Dana Pedersen cut the ribbon with the help of west county Supervisor Lynda Hopkins and food writer Clark Wolf, one of the school garden’s founding supporters.
Wolf and Pedersen served as co-hosts and announced plans to promote Guerneville School’s original and now “historic” school garden to rent out for future public and private gatherings such as picnics and weddings. The old garden, started a dozen years ago, occupies five acres of open space at the end of Carrier Lane.
The old garden will “continue to be the umbrella” for the school’s gardening activities but will now also be available to accommodate events.
Gardening class activity will now take place at the new enclosed on-campus garden that’s closer to amenities such as rest rooms, said Pedersen. Pedersen said that despite the move, the old garden “is still alive and well. It’s a beautiful space.”
The school district owns the space and is looking at it as an educational resource and a moneymaker for the district, said Wolf.
“The possibilities are extraordinary,” said Wolf. “We really need to share this space.”
Guerneville restaurateur and caterer Crista Luedtke, who runs the Boon Hotel & Spa across Armstrong Woods Road from the school, has been helping with maintenance and preservation of the old garden where there’s a fruit orchard and an outdoor kitchen.
Luedtke will serve as the conduit to help orchestrate events at the school’s old garden site, said Wolf.
The addition of a new separate teaching garden on campus reflects the successful student interest in gardening and food, said Wolf.
“When we started the [old] garden out there we didn’t know how many students would be interested,” said Wolf. “Now we know. It’s everybody.”
The new outdoor classroom occupies schoolyard space where some 40-year-old portable classrooms were removed. The 3,000-square-foot space is securely fenced and looks less farm-like and more like a playground with planters compared with the historic garden’s rustic five-acre meadow. The new garden’s location on campus makes it more accessible for kindergarten through 8th graders who formerly had to walk through a neighboring field to get to their garden classes.
The new space “will be used every single day” as an outdoor classroom, said Pedersen.
On Saturday afternoon Crista Luedtke went to work in the old garden’s outdoor kitchen creating a tasty kale salad made from the garden produce.
Guests at Saturday’s ribbon cutting included a busload of Sonoma County Certified Tourism Ambassadors representing the Sonoma County Tourism Board. The garden event was also on the Sonoma County Farm Trails tour.