Organic Garden

Located on a quarter acre on the school campus, St. Michael’s School garden serves as an outdoor classroom where students learn and apply academic concepts in a practical setting.  Project-based learning, collaboration with peers, community service and stewardship of the Earth are promoted. Lessons integrate every discipline, including health, history-social science, mathematics, physical education, reading/language arts, science, visual and performing arts, and world language. All lessons are aligned to the California state standards.

The garden also empowers children to embrace healthy eating habits and to develop respect for and stewardship toward our living planet. The garden program fosters the natural connection to our food source. Children who plant and harvest their own fruits and vegetables are more likely to eat them. The garden brings our community together; garden parents, Grandparents Club, and the teachers all lend a helping hand to create this wonderful and ever growing program.


Past Activities

From the Garden - What’s Growin On

We had a fun workday in the garden on Sunday, October 4.  Parent volunteers Charlie Rea, Ning Hsu, Bethany and Anthony Pane, Marina Smith, Julie Bugatto and Rob Gaon helped prune weeds and prepare the garden beds for the classes to use.  Students volunteers helped pull weeds, hunted for bugs, harvested tomatoes, persimmons, pomegranates and pumpkins and created vases of beautiful flowers to decorate the classrooms.  They had so much fun and asked if they can invite more friends to come have a "play date in garden."

The garden is a tremendous asset of our school and the students really enjoy their outdoor lessons.  Thank you to all our garden parents and volunteers for supporting this effort.

Want to help?  Join us for Coffee in the Garden on Friday, November 6 at 8:00am as we get the garden ready for Grandparents Day.

From time to time we would like to share recipes of the season. This is a little  ditty that is simple and takes advantage of the last Eggplants of the season.    
- The Garden Committee

Eggplant Parmigiana

  • 2 large eggplants, or 3 medium, sliced length wise ¼ inch thick
  • 2-3 cups of Marinara sauce
  • ¾ cup grated Asiago or Parmigiana cheese
  • 1 ball (16oz of Mozzarella) or Provolone. Grated or cut into small rounds

Slice eggplant, salt on one side.  Large frying pan, put ¼ inch olive oil, medium heat. Put Eggplant in frying both sides until golden brown and soft (add more oil if necessary). Cover dish with paper towel and place eggplant slices on to absorb the oil. Do this until all eggplant is cooked. Medium size Pyrex dish, layer Marinara just enough to cover dish. Now layer eggplant slices to cover bottom, sprinkle Parmigiano and Mozzarella. Drizzle more sauce to cover eggplant. Sprinkle basil. Make another layer of Eggplant, cover with sauce, grated cheese, basil, mozzarella (all ball should be used up). Cover with foil, bake in preheated oven 375 for 30 minutes or when cheese is bubbling and center of dish is hot.

Kindness in the Garden

Friday the second grade picked flowers in the school garden and made arrangements to pass out to teachers and staff. This garden lesson connected the the students' language arts unit about kindness and making a difference in the world.


Buddies in the Garden

On Friday, October 10, St. Michael’s fourth and fifth graders met their first grade buddies from Starr King School.  The students met in the St. Michael’s garden for a special lesson on pumpkins, including reading pumpkin books, learning about the pumpkin life-cycle, making observations and predictions about pumpkins, and even tasting pumpkin treats.  During the school year, the fourth and fifth graders will meet with their buddies to teach them science lessons and help them with their garden boxes at Starr King.


ECE in the Garden

Did you know that fruit is like a suitcase for seeds?  Ask your children what they learned in our garden lesson today -- All About Seeds!  The students loved digging through the soil and planting broccoli and lettuce seeds.  They also helped find the ripe apples, persimmons and pomegranates on the trees, observed the seeds inside the fruit and sampled each type of fruit.  Thank you to Julie B our garden parent and our volunteers:  Marianna D, Rachel G, Corinne G, Molly & Nima H, Chris K, Alisa S, Jennifer S and Marina S


Congratulations 4th Grade

St. Michael’s fourth grade placed first in their division at the Sacramento County Fair’s Farm Garden In A Wheelbarrow competition this weekend.  The wheelbarrow contest is an educational program designed to educate young children, grades K-6 about the importance of agriculture, where their food comes from and how it grows.   This project was truly integrated across the curriculum, with math, writing, science, and art all coming together in the final product.  Congratulations to Mrs. Schmitt and the entire fourth grade!  A big thank you to Mrs. Riley, Mrs. Halimi, and Mrs. Venegas, who are the fourth grade garden parents and Mrs. Weeden for their help with the project.


Recycling Competition

Each year St. Michael's students are reminded of the role they can have in protecting our planet during St. Michael's Earth Day Recycling Competition. Recycling cans, plastic and glass bottles preserves Earth's precious natural resources such as Bauxite Ore, oil and sand, and all revenue generated from the recycling competition will be donated to charity.

Congratulations to 4th Grade for their efforts during Earth Week 2014 for collecting the most recyclables.



ECE WORK DAY in the Garden!

What a beautiful day to work in the garden!  The children pulled weeds and old plants out of one of our garden beds.  Most were fascinated by the bugs we found:  baby preying mantis, a banana slug, a centipede and ropy pollies. The Busy Bees helped prepare the soil and the Teddy Bears planted seeds in hopes to see huge pumpkins in the garden when they return to  ECE in the Fall!  We pulled up the rainbow carrots we planted many months ago.  The smiles were precious as the children anxiously waited to see what color and shape "their" carrot might be.  Your child brought one home to show you today.  Lastly, we painted rocks to decorate the garden beds for Grandparents Day.  Thank you to Anne W, Sara B, Jessica T, Jennifer S and Tiffany P for helping! A big thank you to our garden parent, Julie B!


ECE in the Garden: Eggs and Chickens


The rain didn’t stop ECE from having an awesome Garden Day today!  We learned all about eggs and chickens, including why chickens are good for the garden and the life cycle of a chicken.  The children loved learning about how baby chicks hatch and why egg shells are so strong.  They also got to hold a live baby chick! 
The children visited three stations (the garden was too wet, so we stayed inside and had Garden Day in the iMast building).

Read a Book – At this station, Jessica T read the book, “From Egg to Chicken, Lifecycles,” by Gerald Legg.  This fun book contains simple but accurate graphics explaining how an egg becomes a chicken.  The children loved the transparent pages and returned to look again and again.
Became Junior Engineers – We tested the strength of eggshells at this station.  First, the children held an egg in one hand then squeezed it tightly.  They were amazed at the strength of the shells.  Only one out of the 37 eggs broke when squeezed!  Then, Jessica G and Jennifer S set up four eggshell “domes” (half of an eggshell) in a large square and asked the children to guess how many books it would take sitting on top of the domes to break the domes.  The children guessed from 1 to 9,000, and each of them had the opportunity to place a book on the stack.  They were all fascinated when the domes finally broke!  As part of this activity, the children learned why eggshells are so strong (their shape and the calcium in the shells) and they enjoyed touching the broken shells.
Touched Baby Chicks – At this station, a crowd favorite (of course!), the children had the opportunity to pet one of three baby chicks Angie M brought to class.  The chicks were kept warm by a special light, and the children were surprised at the softness of the chicks’ fur.  Some of the children were a little hesitant to touch the chicks, especially because they were so small.  Deb T explained to the children all about the chicks, and even agreed to give them a good home after the lesson!  The children also looked at a large puzzle showing the development of a chick from the embryo stage.  Even the parents were amazed by these pictures (and how hard it was to put the puzzle together!).
Easter Egg Hunt –  On their way back to class, all of the children went on an egg hunt in the ECE play yard.  Each child found a plastic egg with a yellow Peep inside.  Most of them ate their Peeps right away, although a few decided to save their treats for the weekend.

California State Fair in the Garden

Every year St. Michael’s fourth grade enters a submission into the California State Fair’s “Wheelbarrow competition.” In addition to a wheelbarrow full of vegetables grown from seed, each student is required to submit documentation of vegetable growth, a related writing piece, and other evidence of academic integration.  This week fourth grade began planning (math), preparing and planting (science), and “tasting” (nutrition) their submission.


Fun in the Garden

On Friday, March 14, ECE had a wonderful trip to the garden!  The children had fun being true “wiggle worms” after learning that worms do not have arms, legs or eyes.  They learned that worms are an important part of a healthy garden as they create tunnels that let in air and water so the plants roots can grow.  

The children visited three stations in the garden – the read a book, became soil scientists and built a worm farm.  Thank you so much to the parent volunteers who made this possible!


Sixth Grade in the Garden

This week the 6th grade class headed to the garden, where they picked lettuce and kale.  They then moved to the kitchen where they cleaned everything that they had picked.  The students also had a chance to taste kale chips.

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Remembering Red Ribbon Week Promises

As you walk around campus, you can see some of the bulbs planted during Red Ribbon week beginning to bloom, reminding the students of the pledges they made during that week in the fall. The practice of planting tulip and daffodil bulbs while making a personal pledge to make a difference is an integral part of St. Michael's Red Ribbon week. The 2013 pledges focused on "the power within me" with special emphasis on bullying.


Citrus Festival

What do you do with winter's bounty of citrus fruit?  Use it to celebrate St. Michael's garden in the lunchroom! Last week 15 gallons of lemonade were made and 50 oranges were cut into slices to be enjoyed by all the students. Not only was it a yummy treat, but it also served as a way to teach children about California's seasonal harvest.


Buddy Garden Activity


Fourth Grade Connects Language Arts and Science in New Compost Project

4th Grade launched St. Michael's new garden composting program while learning about decomposers in their language arts books and in the garden, providing a hands-on example of what they are studying in the classroom. After collecting dead leaves from about campus, students mixed them with other organic material, bacteria (soil) and water (to ensure a damp environment). They then added their ingredients into the garden compost tumbler. Garden Helpers will be responsible for turning the tumbler weekly to ensure the decomposing bacteria receive the oxygen it needs. The compost will be "harvested" in time for SMEDS summer garden planting.

Compost Recipe

  • 2 parts brown (dried leaves, sawdust and straw) 
  • 1 part green (grass, coffee grounds, fruit and vegetable chunks) 
  • 1 part soil 
  • Spritz of water


"Fall"ing for the Garden

Reason for the seasons, plant biology and life cycles, and the role of decomposers are just a few concepts being explored when planting in the school garden. Classes from ECE to 8th grade are busy filling the garden with cool-weather fruits and vegetables such as beets, carrots, chard, sugar peas, radish, lettuce, kale, spinach and broccoli. Students can look forward to harvesting and tasting their crops in nutritious salads, soups and smoothies in the new year.


ECE in the Garden

ECE Garden Day was November 8, 2013.  The children had so much fun this morning as we planted our winter garden with snap peas, carrots, beets and radishes.  We rotated through four stations, where the children were able to touch & feel the vegetable plant, taste the vegetable, and then plant the seeds in the ground.   It was a great learning experience to try a few new foods and understand how the vegetable plants start from tiny seeds.   We can't wait to harvest our crop in the Spring!

Buddies in the Garden - Fall Planting and Persimmon Smoothies

Wednesday, November 6 the first and eighth graders headed to the garden for a fun, nutritious buddy activity.  Together the students made persimmon smoothies and planted snap peas for our fall garden.  Not only was this a wonderful buddy time, but it also tied into the eighth graders’ science lesson on elements, compounds and solutions, providing an opportunity to connect what they learned in the classroom to their experience making the drink with their buddies.


Fall Fruit Festival

Wednesday, October 30 students were able to taste persimmons and pomegranates grown in the school garden as part of the Fall Fruit Festival.  In the lunchroom garden parents shared the fall fruits with students, explaining that all fruits have seeds and that it is the job of fruit to protect and disperse seeds.  Students enjoyed trying more food grown in their own garden.


Make No Bones About It - Garden Integrates with Curriculum in the Fall

Fall is here, and at St. Michael’s the students have been busy in the garden using fall crops and garden activities to provide hands-on, fun connections to their science, math, language arts and art curriculum.  The Pre-K class listened to the story Big Pumpkin and then used their special pumpkin that grew in the garden to act out the story. Both the Preschool and Pre-K took the scare out of scarecrows by stuffing their own pint-sized versions.  Kindergarten counted pumpkin seeds in the garden and had a great time making and tasting pumpkin bread.  First grade read the book Pumpkin Soup and then tasted pumpkin soup and made pumpkin crafts.  The second grade used the garden to practice estimating and measuring in math, while the third grade students worked collaboratively to make their own scarecrows. Then fourth grade tasted raw pumpkins and used cup, teaspoon and tablespoon measurements to make pumpkin smoothies.  The garden fun will even continue at the Fall Carnival, where students will do pumpkin crafts and estimate the weight of pumpkins.


Summer Garden Festival in Lunchroom

Monday, September 16 all the students got to sample red, yellow and orange tomatoes in the lunchroom as part of the Summer Garden Festival.  The tomatoes were grown in the St. Michael's garden and picked by the 8th graders earlier in the day.  Students also learned information about tomatoes, including the fact that they are a fruit and that fruits contain seeds.


River City Food Bank in the Garden

St. Michael's 4th grade students had lunch in the garden today (Friday, September 6) with Susan Doris of River City Food Bank, where they learned about the role of this important Sacramento institution in helping the hungry in our city.  The students then picked tomatoes from the school garden to donate to to the food bank.  Great job 4th graders!

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St. Michael's robotics curriculum uses project-based learning and allows our students to see the physical application of abstract science, math and engineering concepts while learning to design and program a robot."

— Veronica Graffis, Faculty, Middle School

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