Schooled in sustainability |

Schooled in sustainability

Photo for The Union by John Hart
John Hart | The Union

In order to spread awareness of sustainability in food and farming, Grass Valley Charter School, which has its own garden, is partnering with the Nevada County Sustainable Food and Farm Conference.

“We are setting up the conference Friday and are going to be selling items to raise money for our garden here at Grass Valley Charter,” said Lisa Jarvis, Grass Valley Charter seventh-grade teacher.

The garden is a part of the school’s expeditionary learning model, which offers real-life experiences to students.

“The garden itself is our year-long service project,” Jarvis said. “We’ve taken that on to rebuild it, fixing the beds and the whole area and we want to raise money to buy tools and other items that the garden will need. And we’re working with other farmers and people in the community that will help us make it a thriving garden for years to come.”

“The ability to learn how to grow your own food is a skill that’s very important for everybody to learn.”

— Brian malin,
Vital Garden Supply

The conference will include an array of farm and food-related workshops, which will take place at Grass Valley Charter.

“We will have a booth set up so we can talk to people about what we’re doing and help people get to where they need to go,” Jarvis said.

The school will also be selling water bottles and discount community cards to raise money for the garden.

“We will be selling water bottles and value cards,” Jarvis said. “The cards are $20 a piece and the consumer gets discounts on various local businesses that are supporting us and it goes back to the school to help fundraise.”

Several sponsors for the conference, including Forever Flowering Greenhouses, Fowler Family Farms, and Vital Garden Supply, have committed to helping Grass Valley Charter develop their organic garden through hands-on help and donated supplies.

“We have been helping out with the gardening for eight or nine years,” said Brian Malin, owner of Vital Garden Supply in Grass Valley. “My wife, Pedma, does a weekly class with my son’s class, so every year we donate our time and we also donate the soil and amendments for the beds that are existing there.”

Farming allows children to learn to be independent consumers, Malin said.

“The ability to learn how to grow your own food is a skill that’s very important for everybody to learn,” Malin said. “Because we don’t know how the world will be in the future and we need to be prepared to be self-sufficient.”

Vital Garden Supply will be featuring a booth at the conference, offering their products and information.

Matteo’s Public, a Nevada City restaurant, will also be participating in the conference, offering a booth with sandwiches.

“We’ll be donating a good portion of the profits back to the school,” said Matt Margulies, owner of Matteo’s and father of a GV Charter seventh-grade student.

Children can learn more about healthy eating through working with the garden, Margulies said.

“I feel that it’s really important for the kids to see where their food comes from,” Margulies said. “And also for them to be able to plant and harvest food that’s healthy for them and not just assume that all food comes from the grocery store.”

Margulies said his son has shown enthusiasm about the school’s garden.

“He’s pretty excited about working on it,” Margulies said. “And they now have a pretty good-sized garden.”

The conference takes place from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and from 9 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets, available at, range from $30-$100 depending on the workshop package.

The conference helps students realize their ability to make a difference, Jarvis said.

“We are studying farming and the different effects of farming on the community and our health, by looking at sustainable farming and how we can make a difference in the future — making a change from big companies to smaller growers and getting better quality products and not putting money in big corporate pockets.” Jarvis said. “I think it’s important for kids to be involved in that.”

To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email or call (530) 477-4230.

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