Several months of collaboration between Palm Springs Unified and the Desert Healthcare District/Foundation was recently commemorated with a ceremonial ribbon cutting marking Bubbling Well’s Elementary School’s first garden. The event was the culmination of a project that included designing, creating, building and funding the school garden through a grant from Riverside University Health System (RUHS) — secured by Desert Healthcare District and earmarked for plant-based health initiatives in Desert Hot Springs.
“School gardens are opportunities to stimulate classroom curiosity in an active outdoor setting,” said RUHS Program Coordinator Andrea Morey. “Students can participate in planting, growing, and harvesting vegetables – even preparing a healthy snack!”
PSUSD provided in-kind donations of extending the necessary water lines, garden irrigation system and timer, and grounds crew work.
It was District/Foundation Program Officer Alejandro Espinoza and Health Educator Vanessa Smith who were hands-on with Bubbling Wells staff and students to bring the project to fruition including tilling the soil and providing curriculum for students to learn about the healthful benefits of eating fruits and vegetables. Bubbling Wells teachers Kris Woody and Aiden Albano-Bachtell established the school’s first Gardening Club in order to maintain the garden.
“We have 25 kids in our brand new Garden Club who are excited about maintaining it,” said Bubbling Wells Principal Omar Tinoco. “Citrus trees have already been planted, and tomatoes, mint, chilies, cilantro and other herbs are under way.”
Tinoco added that plans are to fence the garden and for a local artist to paint a mural behind it.
“We may even dedicate our garden to a worthy staff member,” Tinoco said. “It’s very exciting to be one of the first schools in Desert Hot Springs to have our own student-operated garden, who added that the Bubbling Wells PTA is a major contributor to the garden’s creation and will be crucial to the garden’s success through fund raisers and organization of garden work days for students and their parents in the spring.
For Desert Regional’s District Foundation, the garden fits very well with one of its key missions.
“One of the District/Foundation’s areas of community health focus is healthy eating and active living,” said Herb K. Schultz, CEO at the District/Foundation. “Teaching students about the benefits of growing their own vegetables and fruits is not only important, it can be fun!”