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2016 Challenge Runner-Up

Cristo Rey High School
Sacramento, CA


Cristo Rey High School Sacramento (CRHSS) is a small Catholic School located in Sacramento, California. We are part of a larger nationwide chain of Cristo Rey Schools with a similar mission. At our school the students must all be of low economic status (below the poverty line). The students are provided with a college preparatory education that they may not receive at their local public high school. Cristo Rey has a very unusual set up: The students will attend classes four days per week, and one day per week the students will be sent to work. Some students work in hospitals, other in the capitol building or even law offices. The companies that the students work for will in turn pay for their tuition at the school. Cristo Rey is the school that works!

Commonly students that come from low economic status may not know of all the wonderful fruits and vegetables that are available. This is common because fruits and vegetables are often too expensive for families that have many mouths to feed but not a lot of financial means. Knowing this information, I wanted to bring a garden to the students so they could see the whole process of farm to fork in their own school.

The Garden Club was started of the spring of last year and has flourished in its short existence. The students have been involved with every step of the process to make this garden a success. They have leveled the land, used power drills to construct the boxes, filled the boxes with organic soil, went to the store to pick out flowers and seeds and weeded the garden as needed. We currently have two full boxes that are producing many herbs such as basil, and several fruits and vegetables, including tomatoes, squash, zucchini, and strawberries. There are peppers on their way too! The garden is organic and fully irrigated on a self-timer.

A third box is currently under construction and we could use the funds to help fund the final box. As you can see in the images attached, we are currently leveling out the land to be able to place the box there. We are also extremely interested with expanding our relationship with the kitchen staff. Currently the kitchen will use our produce to add to the salad bar at lunch but we want to be able to provide more! We plan to start a composting project as well. The kitchen has plenty of scraps and waste that could be used as compost. We hope to have two composters that would then be used to help fertilize the boxes.  



Garden Club Summary
 Alissa H.,  student-participant

There are many jobs to do for the Garden Club. It truly takes teamwork to accomplish tasks in the Garden- which is an important thing to learn. We do things like taking out weeds, observing the plants grow, build structures for new plant foundations, harvest the produce, and obviously learn to care for the plants. It can be fun working together in the garden but it also takes determination and hard work. Learning to nurture other organisms (besides ourselves) can be a little challenging- yet it is also very fascinating!

So far in the Garden Club, we have been able to clear space in the plaza area in order to raise three wooden beds for the crops (students built the beds themselves). Luckily we had volunteers from last year’s students to speed up the process. We’ve been able to fertilize the soil and plant our sprouts. We also inserted an irrigation system to water the plants. Watching the plants grow and thrive has been a great experience, not to mention the critters we cross paths with every time we work on the garden. I hope that many more students are able to participate in the Garden Club for many years to come!