Students at St. Patrick-St. Vincent Catholic High School are learning about sustainability this school year through a pilot sustainability curriculum and hands-on food forest garden installation. The program started in May with the construction of a cob bench made of clay, sand and straw and incorporating “bottle bricks” — plastic bottles filled with nonrecyclable plastic trash.
This month, students will learn about sustainability in class, including an introduction to permaculture and systems thinking, planetary limits and wise water use. Incorporating science and math standards, the lessons will introduce students to sustainability, where their local water sources come from and how to capture rainwater within an environment. The curriculum development is funded by a grant from the Solano Community Foundation.
Students will gain a deeper understanding of what they’ve been learning in class through the installation of a demonstration permaculture food forest garden on campus. This part of the program is supported through Solano Sustainable Backyards, which is funded by the Solano County Water Agency.
“This collaboration with Sustainable Solano is a valuable learning opportunity for our students,” science teacher Summer Ragosta said. “They are able to get hands-on experience with environmental science concepts, including practical ways to protect topsoil, one of our most valuable natural resources, from erosion and degradation. This has implications that go beyond the garden, and help students gain insight into lessons on climate change, waste management, and biodiversity. I am honored to be a part of this great program.”
The food forest project will demonstrate sustainable urban agriculture and water conservation. Through the installation, students will gain hands-on, practical experience in creating guilds of fruit trees and plants that work together, building earthworks to capture rainwater, build a rainwater collection system and learn about greywater.
The school community is enthusiastic about this exciting program and the connected projects, raising additional funds to build more reinforced and secured seating terraces. The food forest will be at the top of the new amphitheater, creating a welcoming, nourishing space for students and campus gatherings.
“I have imagined this space for many years, as I would be working in the garden at the top of the hill,” said Rick Rodgers, a teacher on campus for 32 years and 1977 St. Patrick alumnus. “Both students and adults will value the serenity of the space. Being tucked away in that back corner creates a sense of privacy and the trees and gardens are beautiful and will become more beautiful each year.”
This demonstration food forest project is supported by a grant from the Solano County Water Agency. The pilot curriculum program and cob bench construction are supported by an ED Plus grant from the Solano Community Foundation.
- Monday, Oct. 14: In-class introduction to permaculture lesson
- Monday, Oct. 21: Food Forest installation (planting trees and sheet mulching)
- Wednesday, Oct. 23: Food Forest installation (planting tree guild understory and drip irrigation)
- Thursday, Oct. 24: In-class introduction to water harvesting (with hands-on soil erosion lab)
- Monday, Oct. 28: Water harvesting math lesson (a representative of curriculum funder Solano Community Foundation will be attending the first class period)
Students will be involved in these lessons during the following class periods most days:
- 9:14-10:07 a.m.
- 11:23 a.m.-12:16 p.m.
- 1:57-2:50 p.m.
Oct. 24 class times differ:
- 9:50-10:36 a.m.
- 11:46 a.m.-12:32 p.m.
- 2:04-2:50 p.m.
Director of Development
St. Patrick-St. Vincent
Sustainable Landscaping Program Manager
Workforce Development and Communications Manager
About Sustainable Solano
Sustainable Solano is a countywide nonprofit organization that is dedicated to “Nurturing Initiatives for the Good of the Whole.” The organization brings together programs that support and sustain one another and the Solano County community. Initiatives include sustainable landscaping, local food, resilient neighborhoods, sustaining conversations and community gardens.
For more information about Sustainable Solano, email email@example.com or visit sustainablesolano.org
About St. Patrick-St. Vincent School
St. Patrick – St. Vincent Catholic High School is the only diocesan Catholic college preparatory high school in Solano County with a century-long tradition of education that supports the success of 465 students every school year.
For more information about St. Patrick – St. Vincent Catholic High School, please visit our website at spsv.org.