On a warm afternoon in May Karen Evenden and I park across the street from the Mira Monte Elementary School to attend the opening of the Garden of Knowledge. The garden was created through the generous help of many organizations, the Ojai Women's Fund being one of them. The OWF's grant was used to make pathways of decomposed granite, benches that are spread throughout the garden and to purchase the drought tolerant plants. Our $7,389.00 contribution made up the lion's share of the $12, 380.00 budget and it was worth every penny!
Walking towards the front of the school we can see a group of parents, teachers and children has gathered under the shade in the garden, where they are milling about, sitting on benches, using their phones and chatting with one another. It's a lovely sight and, sadly, a rare one in this part of the Ojai Valley where there are no local parks.
After a sparkling apple cider toast, we join a small group led by two students, Addison Belcher and Nadine Litonjua, who lead us on a tour of the garden, explaining different aspects. The benches are made of rocks harvested from the ground and enclosed in cage like containers. They are unique constructions that remind us of the earth from which they came - wood planks serve as the sitting surface. In one corner there are benches with placards movingly commemorating students who have died while attending the school.
Addison and Nadine tell us about the drought tolerant plants - Palos Verdes and Jacaranda trees, rosemary, Mexican sage, Matilija poppies are included in the garden. They let us know about the wireless signal available to all in the garden and also available to the apartments across the street where families who likely can't afford wifi live. They further explain that the parents of Mira Monte students are the ones who care for the garden, coming in twice a week to water, rake and pull weeds. And up on a fence post, we spy a Little Free Library! Another organization that received an OWF grant!
The girls are giggly and fun and appear proud of their school's garden and their role in guiding us around it. Karen and I are proud, too. Proud of the OWF's contribution to this wonderful, educational and accessible outdoor area.
- Gillian McManus, OWF Member
Caring for Ojai