Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Get Involved And Save Our Garden

Please read this post.  
It's not long and we need everyone's help to save the program.

Because of changes in the federal funding structure, Willard and most schools in Berkeley (except King, which has funding from Edible Schoolyard) are losing funding for the garden/cooking programs for next year.  For years, Berkeley has led the charge in changing how kids eat – via the school gardens, cooking classes and school lunches.  These programs have national impact, making gardening and cooking a vital part of hands on science learning and encouraging kids to expand their culinary habits (like tasting and liking radishes).

There is a small committee of administrators, teachers and parents working on a district campaign to make these programs sustainable in the long haul.  BUT we need to raise $107,000 in bridge funding until those funding streams become available.  If we all pull together we can do this.

Before deciding how to get involved:
            a. Ask your child what he/she has eaten from the Willard garden.
            b. Ask your child what she/he has cooked in the Willard cooking class.
            c. Ask you child what he/she feels about the Willard garden/cooking program. 
            d. Walk through the garden.  Better yet, come to the Willard garden sale, May 4.
            e. Get involved - keep reading to learn how.

How to Get Involved (Pick one to do or pick one per week.):

I only have a few minutes to spare, what can I do? 
  • Send a letter or an email to Berkeley's School Board Members.  There is a district-wide proposal before the council. A decision will be made before the May 8th school board meeting.  In the next post, we'll provide a sample letter for you to send.  If you have time, personalize it.  Let the council know that you are a Willard parent.
  • Ask your company if they have matching grants.
  • Ask your friends, grandparents, neighbors, strangers to donate.
  • Ask the businesses that you frequent for support.   Although most places offer services or products, we're looking for emergency cash support.  Ask a business if they would consider donating a percentage of sales (we would advertise the business).
  • Ask a local business or company to sponsor Willard's garden.  King Middle School's garden program will continue without federal funds because the Edible Schoolyard sponsors their garden.  We know most small businesses are working on very small margins and we're not looking at burdening small businesses but there are many larger companies within a stone's throw from Willard.
  • Write a check to Willard PTA and put Gardening/Cooking Program in the memo.
I have 1-2 hours a week to spare, what can I do?
  • Go to one of Berkeley's School Board Meetings (March 27, April 10, April 24 at 7:30pm) and tell the Board that you think the Gardening and Cooking Program is really important and they should support it.
  • Help organize a fundraiser.  There are several parents working on this and they need more help.  Contact the Gardening/Cooking Committee (email below) if you want to help.
  • Talk to your friends and relatives and let them know. Ask if they know of or have contacts with people/companies who may be able to help support this in some way.
  • Help us organize the plant sale on May 4.
  • Come up with new ideas and help make it real!  
For more information or to get more involved, email the committee at willardgarden(at)

Together let's make this happen!

Willard Gardening and Cooking Committee
Cindy Tsai Schultz
Elizabeth Wells
Rani Marx
Michele Mancuso
Catherine Ference

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