The Opportunity to Grow Fresh Food and Understanding

[Originally published October 22, 2015]

Repower Yolo is a Gold Sponsor of Yolo Farm to Fork's School Programs. When you go solar with us, we'll donate $500.00.

The benefits of all the love, sweat, time, dollars and meticulous care showered upon Holmes Junior High’s garden are rippling outward. Integrated, experiential learning about the beauty of fresh, nutritious food and the art of preparing it deliciously are becoming available to all. Who threw the first stone that is causing all the ripples? Keri Hawkins, Garden Coordinator of Holmes Junior High’s gardening project.

"Thank you for supporting our school gardens! They are a wonderful place for children to unwind and learn through doing."

--Keri Hawkins, Garden Coordinator, Holmes Junior High

In 2012, Keri inherited a neglected, overgrown, weedy mess. But she saw the potential right away to cultivate far more than vegetables, herbs and flowers. The art and cooking classrooms opened to the garden with its courtyard, and the garden could benefit both with gorgeous subjects for still lifes and fresh ingredients for culinary masterpieces and learning about nutrition.

She envisioned the impact the garden could have on the lives of children of all physical and mental abilities. Keri also saw the potential of the garden to provide the enriching experience for collaboration amongst the diverse students. Keri said that her aim is “to make the garden accessible to students of all abilities and to have the students working side by side.”

In 2013, Keri and the students replanted the garden to be low maintenance. In 2014, she had the idea to sell pumpkins in order to raise the money for the gardening program. The Esparto Lions donated the pumpkins and $1,000 was raised, with a matching grant fromTandem Grants. “The garden is truly a community garden. The more people involved, the greater the community ownership of the garden,” she said.

Keri applied her Masters in Architecture to designing tables that were accessible by wheelchair. She gave the designs to Holmes' tech teacher, Lance Gunnersen, and his students, who built the tables and entered them in the State Fair. After the fair, the tables came home to the courtyard next to the garden.

Keri then designed a potting table accessible to all users. She and her enthusiastic team pulled out everything from the existing Zen Garden, a part of the overall garden and courtyard areas, and Dave Leveque, Holmes teacher Deanna Leveque’s husband, built the framework for the Zen Garden. Sadly, with the drought, the water to the garden was cut-off and everything died.

After the potting table came a three-tier planter box, again with the idea that students of all abilities would be able to access it. Avery Phimmasehn, a BoyScout, helped design the planter box, and then built it to achieve his Eagle Scout rank. The planter now boasts seasonal beauty and bounty, replete with beets, broccoli, carrots, celery, kale, lettuce, kohlrabi and cilantro, which are quite often enjoyed immediately after picking.  Special Ed life skills are taught in the garden, where students learn about the tools and feel the utter satisfaction of using them.

The garden and courtyard are thriving, but there one more step before it can be truly accessible to all. In wet weather, the wheelchairs get stuck in the muddy pathways. Keri said that, to remedy this, they need the garden's remaining area graded. And they also need decomposed granite for the space. Please EMAIL KERI if you'd like to help with the grading or donate the decomposed granite. 

Yolo Farm to Fork’s Dig In Yolo! Restaurant Fundraising Campaign makes Davis Farm to School programs possible. For example, last year, Yolo Farm to Fork contributed $250 to Holmes’s garden for garden supplies and plants, with the PTA matching the amount.

These restaurants are digging in to help educate Yolo’s children to live sustainably throughout the month of October. Eat well and help Yolo’s children learn about fresh, healthy food, recycling, and respecting the planet and one another.

Bon  Appétit!

The Savory Café

722-A Main Street, Woodland

DIG IN SPECIAL: Organic Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Lamb Sogu

Café Italia (The Dancing Tomato Café)

1121 Richards Boulevard, Davis


Maria’s Cantina

306 Sixth Street, Woodland


Dos Coyotes (both Davis locations)

2191 Cowell Blvd., Davis | 1411 W. Covell Blvd. #7

DIG IN SPECIAL: Banh Mi Taco Plate

Jack’s Urban Eats (All Locations)

DIG IN SPECIAL: Fresh Harvest Salad

Broderick Road House

319 Sixth Street, West Sacramento

DIG IN SPECIAL: Fiesta Burger


317 Second Street, Woodland


Kitchen 428

First and Bush Streets, Woodland


Osteria Fasulo

2657 Portage Bay East #8, Davis