Thursday, June 14, 2012

Greening of Taft Middle School Brings Community Together

Planting in the garden The San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), in partnership with the Friends of Ruffin Canyon and the ACE Mentor Program, have completed the design and installation of an educational and native garden, "The HabiTaft Garden," for William H. Taft Middle School in Serra Mesa.

At the May 31 dedication, Principal Mike George welcomed guests, followed by remarks from San Diego Superintendent of Schools, Bill Kowba and Gary Petill, Food Services Director for the San Diego Unified School District. As part of the celebration there were demonstrations that included composting, worms,planting and native plants.

The 2011 Legacy Project for the ALSA, The HabiTaft Garden was selected because it presented an ideal forum for reconnecting children with the environment and exposing them to the practice of landscape architecture. Installation of the garden began in October 2011 with school officials, landscape architects, students and Friends of Ruffin Canyon digging in.

ASLA volunteers developed and hosted design workshops for ACE Mentor High School Students as part of the Legacy Project. The first workshop was heldat the site where the students learned how to prepare a site-analysis plan by observing and documenting existing site conditions. The subsequent workshops were held at The New School of Architecture and Design in downtown San Diego. These workshops led the students through the landscape architecture-design process from concept through construction documents.

During the workshops, students learned about the value and diversity of canyon land and watersheds in San Diego and how they related to their site. They learned about urban agriculture and the benefits of reconnecting to natural processes through gardening. The students documented their site-analysis, programmed the site, generated a master plan for the campus, and designed a small educational garden, which they helped construct at Taft Middle School.

In the next stage of the Legacy Project, Taft will develop curriculum that allows students to discover nature, investigate history, and celebrate culture through working and learning in the garden. The garden is universally accessible, providing opportunities where children of all abilities can explore San Diego¹s rich and diverse landscape. The Friends of Ruffin will use the garden¹s greenhouse to grow seedlings that will be planted in Ruffin Canyon, which is adjacent to Taft Middle School.The HabiTaft Garden Legacy Project celebrates the mission of the American Society of Landscape Architects, which is to lead, educate and participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.