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Students Install 'Water Wise' Garden at Rosemead High

  • By David Barron

  Rosemead High School students are doing something positive to help the community “grow up” by starting Panther Farm and installing and developing a water-wise native plant garden by the school marquee sign at the corner of Rosemead Boulevard and Mission Drive.

  They are using drip irrigation for the plants to save water now and in the future said Joe Vasquez, director of Panther Farm and an English teacher at Rosemead High School.
Vasquez recently earned his Master Gardener certificate from County of Los Angeles after he completed weeks of educational training.
   The marquee area was difficult to prepare and required the use of a rototiller to prepare the hard ground and remove some tree roots. Rosemead High School Coach Chuck Lyons volunteered and rototilled the area. Students prepared the landscape and installed a rain catch basin to keep the water in the garden instead of running off into the street.
   Local water supplier California American Water Co. made a major financial contribution and Eco Tech Services, Inc. put in a drip irrigation system along with matting and layers of mulch so the irrigation isn’t even seen. Vasquez said Rosemead High School is very happy California American Water contributed to the project.
   Other agencies providing assistance were the City of Rosemead, Rosemead Chamber of Commerce, City of El Monte, Southern California Edison, the Whole Kids Foundation, the San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps, San Gabriel Nursery, Eco Tech Services, National Wildlife Foundation, and Los Angeles Chapter of United States Green Buildings Council.
   “We are happy more and more students are joining Panther Farm,” said Vasquez. “We started with a handful of students and now have about three dozen students participating at different times.
   On a recent Saturday morning it looked almost like a school day with many students volunteering their time to weed, spread mulch, plant and maintain the water-wise drip irrigation system by the school marquee at the front of the school and also develop Panther Farm, said Vasquez.
   On campus at Panther Farm, students recently removed grass sod that was replanted at another place on campus, prepared the soil, and then planted an apple orchard with three plant varieties that should grow well in the local climate, according to Vasquez. The varieties are Anna, Fuji, and Gala apples.
   Students have also used two-liter soft drink bottles to create a “container garden” area, which is ideal for people who wish to grow herbs or flowers in small areas, stated Vasquez.
   Students also volunteered to spread mulch in other areas of the school to help beautify the campus.
   “Students volunteer on most Mondays and Wednesdays after school for an hour so they have time for schoolwork and other activities,” emphasized Vasquez.  “They are learning life lessons about working together as a community on campus and within our city, they learn about our environment, and they are great role models for other students, which is working because more students continue to come and join Panther Farm.”
(Source: School press release.)
 

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