Service-learning takes root during Earth Day project at Alderwood Elementary School


OK, so we’re a little late with this one, but we wanted to share a quick story about Earth Day at Alderwood Elementary School.

Sixth-grade teacher Dan Grubb tells us that volunteers from Cox Communications and OneOC arrived on April 22 to help prep the school’s planting beds with new top soil. Pairs of sixth-graders took it from there, planting zucchini and cucumbers that the students grew from seeds.

Alderwood also expanded its growing capacity by building a special hydroponics system that used coconut coir inside a recyclable plastic bag instead of traditional soil. Grubb called it a “grow wall,” and it took shape with the help of former Alderwood student Clifford Kao, who is now the agrosystems director for AmeriPacific.

The work, Grubb said, was part of a service-learning project that produced food for the Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County and offered a curricular connection.

“There is a direct connection to the ancient civilizations and the agricultural revolution,” he said. “All of these civilizations flourished because of a surplus of crops. … The grow wall is new technology and very different from agriculture in ancient times, like the raised beds we are using now.”

Incidentally, that wasn’t the only way Grubb chose to celebrate Earth Day. He also rode a Pedego electric bike to work from his home in Portola Hills, with the 11.2-mile trip taking him about 30 minutes.