In the Spotlight: Mark Hay

CRA is so fortunate to have had the guidance and mentorship of Mark Hay from the very beginning of the patch’s conception. Mark is a Nature Educator based at a school in Tustin. He has been generous in sharing his knowledge to help CRA formulate a plan and to see a dream become a reality. Last Spring he met several times with two wonderful pioneers of our beautiful garden Eve Fein and Cynthia Price. That time spent was in perpetration for the CRA garden initiative. And look how far we have come, in large part to Eve and Cynthia for having the vision and follow through to make it happen.


Cynthia Price gaining more knowledge from Mark Hay


In mid-November CRA Garden Reps, along with Eve, Cynthia, and Ms. Ferguson met again with Mark to further their knowledge. Ms. Ferguson will be heading up the composting with her 8th-grade students and was able to gain a wealth of information from Mark on how to achieve this.


Ms. Ferguson learning how to compost


Mark was blown away by how far the garden has progressed in such a short amount of time. That is something all members of CRA should be extremely proud of! It has been a collaborative effort of all CRA students, faculty, friends, and community to make the vision Eve and Cynthia had back in Spring, a reality. Thank-you Mark for being a part of our community and passing on your wisdom so CRA’s garden can grow!



I belong to…

Each class has been working hard to create their own little patch to make up the tapestry of the larger CRA garden patch. Each patch is unique and tells a story of what that class is learning, how they have cared for and maintained the garden, and what they have produced. And like with any well-written story, there is a pride of ownership displayed with a cover to show who the story (aka patch) belongs to. Each class was able to do this by creating a one-of-a-kind garden sign to proudly show ownership. Two 4th-grade students, Tyler Davies and Lex Carney, worked hard to make the blank signs so each class could then decorate them. Please enjoy the colorful array of creations displayed in the photos, and better yet stop by the patch to see them up, close, and in person.

Tyler Davies and Lex Carney making the wooden garden signs
A colorful display of all the creative garden signs

In the Spotlight: Laura McDermott

Last week we had an abundance of posts highlighting all the students at CRA digging, planting, and sowing in the garden patch. It was wonderful to see the variety of plants being grown, and we owe Laura McDermott a huge thank-you for making that happen. Laura and her family generously donated all the plants and seeds to CRA, and we cannot thank them enough for showing such kindness and support. Laura is a Health Coach so understands the importance of enriching not only the mind but the person as a whole, and that healthy choices happen when we allow children to connect with how their food is grown. By donating such a variety of edible plants, students will get to experience that connection. Laura not only provided all the plants and seeds but has also been an active volunteer in the garden, helping with the clean up day, and gardening with the 5th graders last week.  While gardening with the students she noted that the “fresh air was calming for all involved”. What a beautiful observation of how the garden impacts our students emotionally. So a big heartfelt thank-you to Laura, not only for your family’s kind donation but also for being an active member of the gardening team, and helping make the vision of CRA’s little patch a reality.


Laura McDermott helping clean up the patch!


Middle School

Middle School students are also getting to enjoy the garden. 6th-grade students are taking social studies out to the garden where they will continue learning about Ancient civilization.  They are going to make the connection between foods grown during the Roman Empire, and what they can grow in California today. They have so far planted peas, onions, and leeks. 7th-grade students will be dividing and conquering with Miss Kadziauskas class using the garden in their restaurant project whereas Miss Mandell’s students are using succulents to study earth and human activity. 8th-graders are staying open to allow the garden to morph with their studies, but they got busy planting marigolds with radishes, as well as carrots and sage.

Mrs. Bachrach’s 6th Grade class getting ready to plant.
6th Grade bed looking good.
Mrs. Ferguson’s 8th-graders.
8th-graders looking excited to be outdoors.
8th-graders planting marigolds and radishes.
Marigolds looking pretty.

4th & 5th Grades

The learning outdoors in the patch continues with the 4th and 5th-grade students. It truly is amazing how much the students accomplished in one week in CRA’s little patch, and it was no exception when it came to the upper-level elementary students. 4th-grade students planted lettuce which they will use to observe how plants and animals have internal and external structures that function to support survival. They will be able to watch first-hand growth behavior. Wow, how neat is that?

5th graders were very busy bees in the garden sowing and planting native poppy seeds, nasturtium seeds, lettuce seeds, sunflower seeds, three small tomato plants, three purple leaf basil, two narrow leaf milkweed, two cupea ignea (plant with slender red flowers), and a partridge in a pear tree – OK no partridge or pear tree!  As can be expected with the large assortment of plants they have grown, they will also be working on an assortment of learning objectives. They will be learning about ecosystems and be expanding math concepts (area, volume, graphing). They are also hoping the milkweed will attract butterflies in the Spring so they can observe them for further study.

Miss Alvarez’s 4th Grade class ready to plant!
4th Graders planting lettuce.
4th Grade admiring their work.
5th Grade busy at work.
5th Grades assortment of plants.
5th Grade watering the plants!

2nd & 3rd Grades

The growing never stops. Not in the classroom, or out in the real world. That is what the Second and Third grade CRA students discovered during their first-time exploring, and planting in the patch. What a better place to learn about life cycles than watching life itself, that is what lucky second graders are doing in the garden. Third graders are taking math to the garden by learning about math arrays. Between the two grades, they have planted peas, leeks, onions, and plenty of lettuce.

Miss Cho
Miss Cho’s 2nd Graders excited to garden!
2nd Graders busy at work
Mr. Szeto 3rd Graders studying math arrays.
Mr. Szeto 3rd Grade.
Miss Yi’s 3rd Graders planting onions, peas, and lettuce.
3rd Graders working hard.
Discovering, learning ,growing.
3rd Graders using rain-makers that CCC students made to water the garden.
Miss Yi’s Pokemon Garden
We planted all this!

Kindergarten & 1st Grade

The youngest of CRA students had a blast digging, sowing carrot seeds, and planting marigolds. Kindergarten and 1st Grades are learning about community building as well as bringing science, math, and literacy from the classroom into the garden. What better way to get students excited about learning than to allow them to dig in dirt out in the fresh air.

Ms. Tangney and Mrs. Keen’s kindergarten class growing marigolds.
Working on listening skills as kindergarten students learn how to plant marigolds.
Ms. Lockhart and Ms.Hohman’s kindergarten class working hard planting carrot seeds.
1st Grade Ms.Treglia’s class excited to be in the garden!