Monday, February 9, 2015

Common Vision at Castle Park High in San Diego

by Libby Woods, Spring 2015 Tour Crew Member

Common Vision at Castle Park High School

Last Friday Common Vision visited Castle Park High School in San Diego. Our first High School of this tour. Castle Park High is located upon a hill that over looks the city with a great view of the mountains. The school is 50 years old and has not had an Agriculture program within any current teachers memory. This install came through a dedicated and enthusiastic special needs teacher Rhonda. Like most school yards we visit, Castle Park High school grounds was extremely compacted and nearly hard as concrete. Michael and I visited the school a couple evenings before to lay a drip line and soak the grounds. This small step accelerates our morning digging process tremendously.

Friday morning, when the bus arrived in front of the future orchard. Lo and Behold our early crew was assisted by 20 students digging the holes for the trees. Having so much labor assist from the very beginning infused momentum into the crew. Also having the students involved in the most labor intensive aspect of the project gives them a deeper understanding of what we do and spurred their interest in the organization. Many had questions about how and why we got involved in Common Vision. It was pretty impressive to watch the young women digging alongside young men, challenging gender norms. It was also quite sweet to see the special needs students feeling empowered. I monitored two young men dig a substantial hole for the tree with a pick axe, they were so proud of themselves to complete the hole and see it's purpose of growing a fruit tree.

Our student base was a mix of Special needs, English and Spanish speakers. Working with high school students is a change of pace for us. Our curriculum can expand to broader subjects such as the food movement, social justice, our impact on the planet and how we can change our communities for the better. We worked with a very bright and talented senior, Louis. Having already been accepted to two state universities, he anxiously awaits his acceptance letter to UC Berkeley, where he plans to study biology and eventually become a neurosurgeon. His deepest desire is better the world, through service and education, first his community and then take his efforts international. Another bright and eco conscious student, Kyle was reprimanded for his efforts to start composting at this campus, but is working on implementing bee boxes on campus. Kyle also will be traveling to New Zealand to study botany. Such a treat to work side by side with engaged students who share common visions.

Castle Park High has Bio Diesel Club! A Professor from UCSD visits the club and instructs students how to covert Vegetable oil into Bio Diesel. The school tractor is run on campus produced BioDiesel. Leo Buc, our director also the mechanic that built the entire veggie oil system on our Bus, (Boo) was able to chat with some of the members of the club and give them a run down on how to power the diesel engine on straight vegetable oil. It was awesome for the students to witness the veggie system in action.

Once was an abandoned lot behind the baseball field and next to old school equipment graveyard, is now a fruit orchard. It's location contains a trail that leads from the back of the black top to the neighborhood. Rhonda's hopes is to engage the neighbors to utilize the space and expand it further into a community garden. Another successful day with common vision, transforming unused space into a living laboratory.

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