Tuesday, June 4, 2013


Care for our gardens at Birch Lane is a year-long endeavor so schedule yourself and join Garden Coordinator Hope Sippola in taking care of our site. It not only deters vandalism when things are cared for, but fruit can be harvested by those willing to share some time and effort in the gardens. Our attentiveness this summer will encourage a smooth transition back to classroom gardening in the fall!
Please sign up for a few weeks this summer using Sign up Genius: Here

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thoughtful Improvements at Birch Lane

What a gratifying experience it is to make a physical improvement to a public site like a school. Whether it's creating a space for outdoor education, vegetable gardening, wildlife habitat, or simply improving an area to serve a specific need, groups and individuals can make a huge difference in their communities. Over the years Birch Lane has had people who've cared enough to make that difference for our kids and community. It all starts with a need, then ideas grow, a plan is put in place, funding is nailed down, and once it gets approved by the Principal and the School District we can get started! So now we have a plan and we've prepared.... but wait.... what about workers? You know that old saying about success? Yes. It's 80% about showing up. 

We can make a positive difference in our school surroundings when we think carefully before making changes with the goal to create an sustainable yet inviting, learning friendly atmosphere. The connection that kids and adults who have contributed to site projects is strong, even decades later. We should remember the efforts of those who came before us and make our changes thoughtfully. Here are some examples of projects at different stages in the past and the people that "showed up" and worked hard on them.

From "Mud Pit" to "Castle Courtyard" in 2002. This project was lead by
Debra Ariola, Frank Schlosser, and Bill Herthel. Lydia Delis-Schlosser 

began designing the area with her son's a multi-age class in 2000.

Todd Brown and Ellen Moriarty got this revamp of the "South Garden"
started in 2005. The Farley/Bold family donated those large concrete blocks
that have made a great raised garden. This south facing garden now has 6 to 7
classes gardening in it; each class with it's own space.
In 2008 the enormous Hollywood Junipers that filled this entire area were removed,
and the First Baptist Church community members took on the clean-up of weeds
and Algerian ivy. We now have a pleasing first impression that incorporates
herbs, fruit, and ornamental plants that are some use to the garden program. 
Making use of our animal pen in the spring of 2010, we created a shelter for chickens
and other animals. Keeping to the specific regulations set by the school district,
this "Critter Coop" designed by Debra Ariola was built by many hands including
Brian Bigalow, Ralph Ernst, Kirk Hagen, Ted Sheridan, Jim Bealieau, and Doug Houck. 
In 2010 A donation of pavers from landscape contractor Jose Diaz became a path
between the two reading rooms thanks to dads Kirk Hagen and Matt Fix.
We call it a "Pathway to Reading".
Parent Mark Sherwin installed this tile project celebrating neighborhoods at
the very front of the school in 2009. This art part of this project
was headed by Art teacher Anjanelle Weiher.

We have a yearly tile "Legacy"project that is a great way for people
 to bond over art. In the photo above Karen Farley, Lisa Best, Chris Ziccardi,
and Kim Maslaniak visit while they set down the student made tiles at the
base of the shade structure at the lunch tables. Tile projects all over the school
were most often led by volunteers and art teachers. A few of
the folks to thank include: Donna Billick, Linda Dullum, Judy Leatherman,
Debra Ariola, Kyle Monhollen, Anjanelle Weiher, and Joyce Winter.
After approval by the school district, our big Kindergarten planter boxes were
constructed in 2009 by parent volunteers that included Mike Ziser, Ted Sheridan,
Kirk Hagen, Mark Diel, and a few others. These additions gave our Kinders
a sunny space for successful gardening to take place!
Parent Steve Stein arranges a truck load of sitting rock green stone
boulders from a quarry in Ione in 2007. You'll notice these same boulders
at Holmes Junior High and Davis High School! Old carpeting was used
as weed cloth with wood chips added later.

A true labor of love, the Velma Lagerstrom Native Garden was built by
students, volunteers, and district employees in 2003. An improvement
over the muddy shady lawn that was there and a way to honor a beloved Principal.
Mark Sherwin built the split rail that protects the plantings from being trampled.
The first benches in the Margaret O'Brien Arboretum were installed in the 1970's
by a Boy Scout troop. The benches are still there today next to the lunch area.
Two other bench areas have been created by Eagle Scouts over the years. 

Lisa Reinertson sculpted the original Desert Tortoise for a children's sculpture
garden in Palm Desert. As a parent here, she offered the mold, and assisted with
Mr. Monticello's 6th grade class tile project in 2006.
Mrs. George's husband, Artist Kyle Monhollen headed up the installation.
2011 brought some vandalism, so this precious piece is no longer what it was.
People choose what kind of difference they  make in this world.
For five years this piece brought a great deal of joy.
A DaVinci High School student built this garden box to improve gardening for
this sunny classroom garden in 2008. A much appreciated community service project!
Tom Lengtat added his roofing skills to this kiosk project  in the
Margaret O'Brien Arboretum in 2008.
Joey Ariola does what he can to help dads Mark Sherwin and Jim Houvagimian
build the octagonal deck in the Margaret O'Brien Arboretum in 2005.
This deck is used  as part of an outdoor classroom.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Great Scarecrow Display this Year at Birch Lane!

Click on this little guy to see all of the Birch Lane 2012 Scarecrows!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


 The annual Scarecrow Breakfast at Birch Lane is on Halloween morning! Bring scarecrows to set up and show off in the Birch Lane Elementary quad and have your picture taken with your creation! Check out the link to past creative scarecrows: Scarecrows

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

On-line & On-site Plant Sale at Korematsu this Week!

On-line there are flower and vegetable plants for sale including the special herbs grown by DHS students: Lemon Thyme, Stevia, French Lavender, Du Provence Lavender, Huntington Carpet Rosemary, and Hot and Spicy Oregano!

Check it out at http://www.mykorematsu.com/plant-sale/ and order big and then pick it all up at Korematsu Elementary at the corner of Loyola and Alhambra on Friday the 18th! Marc will be having an on-site sale with other fabulous plants for sale both Thursday AND Friday!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

BIG Garden Sale May 7-11!

Please sign up to help! http://www.signupgenius.com/go/10C0C4FAAAC29A64-bigspring

Individual Pots of:
  • Tomatoes: Beefsteak, Big Beef, Big Rainbow, Black Krim, Celebrity, Early Girl, Shady Lady, Red Siberian, Roma, Virginia Sweet, Super Sweet 100 
  • Sweet Basil 
  • Armenian Cucumber
  • Zucchini Squash
  • French Pumpkins 
  • California Wonder Bell Peppers
  • Tall Coreopsis
6Packs of:
  • Peppers: Red Beauty Bell Peppers, JalapeƱo Peppers, Sweet Banana Peppers 
  • Sweet Basil 
  • Triple Curled Parsley 
  • Flowers: Begonias ‘Varsity Mix’, Impatiens mixed colors, Petunia Madness mix, Lobelia ‘Crystal Palace’
Plants are also available on-line soon for pick up on-site on Friday 5/11 between 1-5pm:
The On-Line Tri-School plant sale will include herbs grown by DHS students for SAE projects – Supervised Agricultural Experience

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter Nature/Recycling Crafts Fridays at Lunch!

These projects were created during our Lunch Time Garden Club on Fridays this winter! Stepping stone mosaics are made with broken plates and tiles. Pine cones,egg cartons and poly-fill from old pillows can be made into sweet Spotted Owls.  Who wouldn't be happy to receive a "Love Rock" from their child? Gardening is happening too. Digging for worms seems to be an activity no one gets tired of!