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California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom

2023-2024 Literacy for Life Grant Recipients

  • Kevin Jordan, Outstanding Educator

    "Tasting the Foods of California"

    Leo A. Palmiter Junior/Senior High School, Sacramento County

    We deploy aquacultural as well as agricultural methods of production in our classroom, gardens, orchard, and vegetable plots. We are one of the very few programs making use of vermiculture, hot composting, and natural fertilizers to produce a variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables throughout the school year for our students to enjoy. We will be conducting food tastings in the classroom, and will demonstrate how texture, flavors, and aromas interact to create a variety of food experiences. This project will provide students with a deeper appreciation of the various foods we eat on a daily basis as well as on special occasions. They will learn how foods are processed and manufactured, acquire cooking and food preparation skills, and gain an understanding of where the various ingredients of our foods come from, with an emphasis on the produce of California.

    Number of students reached: 30 | Grade: 7-12
  • Alma May Bayani

    "Gardening at HCDC"

    Hollister Child Development Center, San Benito County

    We want to have at least 5 planter boxes to be able to plant herbs and vegetables. Our Preschool and After School Program enjoy gardening but we don't have enough materials to use. We need planter boxes, soil and seeds. This project can increase students' stamina and endurance and encourage teamwork through planting. By teaching agriculture at a young age, kids can start recognizing how it impacts the world around them and help them learn other important aspects about life.

    Number of students reached: 60 | Grade: PreK-6
  • Amanda Bailey

    "Agriculture in Yosemite"

    Blaker Kinser Junior High School, Stanislaus County

    In my agriculture course, we study the Forestry and Natural Resource sector of agriculture, including fire, forestry, natural resources, and National Parks. At the conclusion of the unit, we embark on a field study trip to Yosemite National Park. First, students explore the park with a guide and discuss aspects of Yosemite tied to agriculture standards and the content learned. This includes fire's role in Yosemite, the history of the National Park System and Yosemite, prevalent plant and animal species, natural resources, and habitat conservation. Yosemite is one of the only areas we can visit that encompasses National Parks, Forestry, and Fire all in one stop.

    Number of students reached: 45 | Grade: 7-8 and College
  • Amy Alves

    "Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle Cafeteria Waste and Compost Creation for Garden Soil Enrichment"

    Mill Street School, Glenn County

    Our TK-2nd grade school of 500 students will learn about how much food waste our school produces on an average day. Students will learn about how we can reduce, reuse, and recycle much of our food waste by creating compost to be used in our garden, or by utilizing food scraps to be fed to local homestead chicken coops.

    Number of students reached: 500 | Grade: K
  • Catalina Reyero

    "Growing Knowledge: Nurturing Agricultural Literacy with Air Plants"

    St. John the Baptist, Los Angeles County

    The "Growing Knowledge: Nurturing Agricultural Literacy with Air Plants" project introduces students to the fascinating world of air plants (Tillandsia) and their role in agriculture. I believe that by connecting students with these unique plants, we can inspire a deeper understanding of agriculture, sustainability, and environmental stewardship.

    Number of students reached: 74 | Grade: 7-8
  • Charlotte Asher

    "Grace Greenhouse"

    Valley View Charter Montessori, El Dorado County

    This project steps outside to the usual box to spread the benefits of agriculture across all academic areas. We have a 4' x 8' lean-to greenhouse that isn't used. We have numerous students that have difficulty self-regulating and then get into or in trouble. The idea is that an adult would be able to take a student into the greenhouse to plant, putter and talk. Those of us who work in agriculture know the grounding that can happen when working with plants and dirt. Grace means to do honor or credit by one's presence. Each student that goes into the greenhouse would grace it.

    Number of students reached: 100 | Grade: PreK-8
  • Christine Torosian-Klistoff


    Fairmont Elementary School, Fresno County

    I would like to purchase dissection lab equipment so my students can learn about parts of a flower. The students will dissect chicken wings to learn about multicellular organisms and how they are made up of multiple cells working together. We would also use this equipment for my animal vet unit and practice surgery on bananas and oranges.

    Number of students reached: 300 | Grade: TK-8
  • Eliza Daly

    "Garden Book Circle"

    South Oceanside Elementary School, San Diego County

    Our school's literary offerings around gardening and cooking are extremely limited. In an effort to promote more avenues of learning in our school garden, we want to create a library section dedicated to garden learning, culinary arts, and food as medicine. We want our garden and cooking lessons to make it back to the classroom by providing teachers with age-appropriate books they can read prior to our lessons to enhance learning connections. We want to increase the possible learning objectives our food garden offers. We hope to create a colorful, peaceful, and dedicated section of the library for both our teachers and students to source additional materials that will facilitate more learning around our lessons: from three-sisters planting, to how seeds grow, to the parts of a plant you can eat, to cooking with veggies, we want all the learning capacities for our students!

    Number of students reached: 539 | Grade: TK-5
  • Eloise Gomez

    "Healing Garden"

    Bassett High School, Los Angeles County

    With this project, I will instruct my students on the health and well-being benefits of growing healing herbs in their containers at home. I plan to instruct them on the how-to of planting these herbs and share the knowledge of the way these plants can be used in cooking and in other ways to boost their self-care and promote physical and emotional well-being. I plan to purchase starter potting soil and implements to begin planting these herbs at school. Students will examine nutrient rich soils and learn how to make and maintain healthy soil for growing nutritious thriving plants. They will explore the components (chemistry) of healthy soil, proper watering and fertilizing of soil including the benefits of composting.

    Number of students reached: 120 | Grade: 9-12
  • Erica Matter

    "Stone Soup Garden"

    New Joseph Bonneheim, Sacramento County

    I will be purchasing a garden box to place outside my classroom door to grow vegetables for a soup (Stone Soup). I would like to have my students see the full project from building the box, adding and amending the soil, and planting the vegetables. I will be teaching responsibility for caring for plants, as well as seeing the results of our hard work in the soup we get to enjoy. I have a vermicompost in my classroom and will connect it to the Stone Soup Garden.

    Number of students reached: 18 | Grade: 1
  • Gina Armanino


    Oraze Elementary School, Fresno County

    With this grant, I will provide my 4th grade Aggie Club and Bloomin Buddies Club with a place to grow and care for the plants that they need. Aggie Club was a brand-new club last year at Oraze that teaches 4th grade students about agriculture. Bloomin Buddies is also a brand-new club I am starting this year to teach kids about growing flowers and greenery and using them in floral design. I will be planting raised beds in a garden area this year. In this area I would like to plant flowers for cutting (to use in floral design) and vegetables for the kids to grow and eat in the garden. My idea is to bring agriculture to the children and give them a love of growing and being responsible for their projects. My garden will be a place where the kids can be innovators in a world all their own. This garden will be a place for the kids to escape, a place to learn, and a place to become knowledgeable in agriculture.

    Number of students reached: 80 | Grade: K, 1, 4
  • Hector Guillen

    "Spring on the Farm Field Trip"

    Arlanza Elementary School, Riverside County

    I will be taking my students on a field trip to the AGRIscapes Discovery Farm at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona where students can see, hear, touch, smell, and taste what they have been learning about in the classroom. Stimulating your senses while studying can improve subject-matter retention. The more you use your sense of taste, hearing, smell, sight, and touch while learning, the more you're stimulating various parts of your brain. This project will help create a multi-sensory learning experience that will aid in the student's long-term memory retention.

    Number of students reached: 200 | Grade: 2 and 6
  • Jami Beck

    "Harvesting Hope: The Esperanza Project"

    Three Rivers Elementary School, Tulare County

    Harvesting Hope: The Esperanza Project is an engaging and immersive educational project centered on California Agriculture in the Central Valley. This project starts with a deep dive into the novel, "Esperanza Rising" by Pam Munoz. Students will trace the journey of Esperanza from Aguascalientes, Mexico, to Arvin, California, where she encounters the challenges and resilience of Mexican and other farm workers in the region. The project will integrate fiber arts, specifically crochet, using cotton. Cotton is a commodity that is grown in Tulare and Kern counties. This hands-on activity enables students to connect agriculture to artistry, bridging the gap between their studies and practical skills. As a pivotal experience, the project includes a field trip to Weedpatch, California, where students gain firsthand insight on a California farm, further enhancing their understanding of the region's agriculture. "Harvesting Hope: The Esperanza Project" aims to foster a comprehensive learning experience that combines literature, practical skills, and real-world exposure to California's agricultural heritage, empowering students with knowledge, creativity, and a deeper appreciation for their local community.

    Number of students reached: 12 | Grade: 4
  • Jessica Eves

    "Growing Readers in the Garden and Cooking Classroom"

    Darnall Charter School, San Diego County

    As the Garden and Cooking Educator, I teach garden and cooking lessons to all our TK-6 grade students. I use the Wild Wisdom Curriculum created by the Sage Garden Project. Their curriculum includes ideas of using connected literature for each of the lessons to help build prior knowledge before students come to their lesson. I send recorded readings of the books to teachers so they can play them for their students before they come for a lesson with me. This year, I would like to get the books into the hands of our students sooner by putting these books in our Free Little Library after each lesson. My garden and cooking lessons provide students with hands-on experiences with food and agriculture, but the connected literature recording will provide students with literacy-based experiences that connect new agricultural concepts taught in the garden.

    Number of students reached: 350 | Grade: TK-8
  • Julie Cates

    "Linwood Eagles-Space Farmers, 2.0a!"

    Linwood Elementary School, Tulare County

    Linwood sixth graders have been integrating agriculture and space exploration for three years in a project called "Nuggets on Mars," in which students raise poultry on the Red Planet. We would like to expand our project by purchasing three aquaponics kits from the National Ag in the Classroom store. We will utilize aquaponics to support a closed loop system of agriculture creating a food source for our poultry production on the planet Mars. Previously, our students have tested different soil compositions, using NASA projections on Mars' soil and proportion math to create land-based agriculture. The students have also had minimal experience with hydroponics. However, two years ago students thought about utilizing aquaponics as the fish would serve two purposes, one for plant production and two as an alternative protein source for space travelers and chickens. This is grant 2 of 2 requests from our sixth-grade team, to provide each of our three classrooms with an aquaponic system.

  • Justin Tracy

    "Harvest Harmony: Nourishing Mind, Body, and Soul Through Art and Agriculture"

    Contra Costa School of Performing Arts, Contra Costa County

    The "Harvest Harmony" project aims to nourish mind, body, and soul by establishing a sensory garden combined with an outdoor performance space at our performing arts-focused high school. Specifically designed to cater to students with diverse learning needs, including those with IEPs, the garden will serve as both an agricultural classroom and an arts venue. Students will engage in hands-on gardening to learn about nutrition while also contributing art installations and performances inspired by plant life and healthy living. The initiative culminates in a community event featuring student performances, art showcases, and freshly harvested produce. Intersecting the realms of agriculture, nutrition, and the arts, this project promotes holistic education, inclusivity, and community engagement.

    Number of students reached: 350 | Grade: 9-12
  • Lori Irvine

    "Linwood Eagles Space Farmers 2.0"

    Linwood Elementary School, Tulare County

    Earlier in our unit "Nuggets on Mars," students discovered they can't sustainably grow their food in Martian soil. This failure leads them to the focus of this project, aquaponics. The project begins with teams researching and building models of other ways to grow food while also ensuring the plants receive all the nutrients they need. The model could be a small plastic cup with a wet cotton ball. It's anything they can dream of. Students will begin to realize the common theme in all their models is water. This will lead to further investigation of the feasibility of hydroponics on Mars. Once it's established that hydroponics will be sustainable on Mars, students will revise their models of aquaponic mini gardens and further investigate hydroponic gardening. The culminating project will be a team of students building the aquaponic garden we purchase from the Ag in the Classroom store.

    Number of students reached: 60 | Grade: 6
  • Marlene Larios

    "Outdoor Learning Center Expansion"

    Peggy Heller Elementary School, Merced County

    This project entails the expansion of the Junior High's Outdoor Learning Center, with inclusivity and ADA features in mind. A total of 5 garden beds are in place, but two chiefly need soil as they were just installed in May 2023. A raised garden bed, updated hydroponic walls, and a shaded seating area are the next tasks to complete. Native gardening and promotion of wildlife preservation alongside agricultural practices are the focus. Additionally, an outdoor area where students can safely prepare food from the garden is desired as well as hosting school events in the garden such as "farmer's markets" and showcases such as STEM Fair.

    Number of students reached: 172 | Grade: 7 and 8
  • Matthew Avila

    "Ag Education Outdoor Workspace"

    Atascadero Middle School, San Luis Obispo County

    There is currently an empty & unused space behind our agriculture elective class that is over a hundred square feet. The goal is to clean up this area and turn it into an outdoor space that can be used for labs, a small garden, and more! This process would involve cleaning out the trash, weed eating, and setting up lab/learning spaces. These would involve a few inserted planter boxes, a watering system, a mobile planter box (to bring inside in the winter), a planting table, and potentially more!

    Number of students reached: 100 | Grade: 8
  • Natalie Stevano

    "Linden Farm Day"

    Linden High School, San Joaquin County

    Linden FFA hosts an annual Farm Day for TK-3rd grade students. Over 175 Linden FFA students participate in the event as well as 50 community members. This day promotes all thing agriculture with over 40 stations. The elementary students and teachers leave the day with great experience and tons of resources that they can utilize after the event. The Linden FFA students spend months gathering resources from ag advisory's nationwide and planning their educational stations. This event reaches over 1000 students with Ag Literacy that last a lifetime.

    Number of students reached: 900 | Grade: 10-12
  • Sandra Rose


    Wilson Middle School, San Diego County

    My project is to Grow Eat Love healthy nutritious food for my students. I teach Environmental Science at Wilson Middle School, a Title 1 school that offers 100% free lunches, snacks, and breakfast. The Teenage Nutrition survey that I give at the beginning of every year reveals that, generally, most students choose to eat spicy chips instead of fruit and vegetables or drink soda instead of filtered water. I am also the School Garden Coordinator and Garden Club Mentor. My students learn to grow and maintain the school garden, run free Farmer's Markets and prepare food packages for the holidays. I will use this grant to buy the needed recipe ingredients to teach my students how to prepare delicious meals they will love from the produce we grow. TASTE is the way to educate our youth to a healthy lifestyle for life!

    Number of students reached: 200 | Grade: 7-8
  • Tarah High

    "Soil Vitality: Vermicomposting with Vittles"

    Saint Anne, Tulare County

    We plan to develop and implement a routine system for composting our leftover food waste from lunch through the use of Vertical Migrating Worm Bins. Students in grades 6-8 will begin with the inquiry question, "Where does our food come from?" Using various stages of the Science and Engineering practices, students will ask questions about where our food comes from and define problems about food waste and make connections to hunger. Through investigation students will learn about various natural ecosystems and the relationships of diverse living organisms and the cycles of matter, which we will compare to the ecosystem of our urban school garden (in downtown Porterville). After researching various methods of waste management, students will design solutions to our problem while engaging in the engineering design process. Durable worm bins will be constructed and vermicompost will then be sustained and utilized as a hands-on teaching tool across grade levels.

    Number of students reached: 200 | Grade: PreK-8
  • Tracey Martinez

    "BAWK to Basics: Poultry 101"

    May Ranch Elementary School, Riverside County

    May Ranch scholars will experience hands-on engaging opportunities to learn more about chickens. Three classes in grades 3-5 have been researching all aspects of caring for chickens from learning about desired breeds to how much square feet is required in their coop and run. Using this information, our scholars have been digitally designing their dream coops. This grant will help maintain our program. The supplies purchased from this grant will provide the necessities for sustaining chickens. Students across grade levels will have the opportunity to learn about the needs of egg laying chickens, their life cycle, benefits, and how to handle and care for them. In addition, our scholars will observe their physical features and discuss adaptations necessary for survival.

    Number of students reached: 887 | Grade: 3-5
  • Tracie Garfinkle

    "Gardening Indoors!"

    Sycamore Elementary School, Ventura County

    I will be creating an indoor gardening experience for my first graders. Each month we will focus on a different type of indoor gardening. We will begin by planting radish seeds in compostable cups. We will keep a journal to record our daily observations. Then, we will move into test tube planting, bulbs in cups, homemade hydroponic gardens, a food scrap garden, a succulent garden, garden in a plastic baggie, we'll build bird houses and finally we'll grow a garden in a plastic glove. My plan is to focus on one type of indoor garden each month. We will keep an observation journal for each garden.

    Number of students reached: 48 | Grade: 1
  • Veila Soto

    "Sowing the Seeds of Love"

    Pacifica High School, Ventura County

    As part of our campus Recycling Club/program we recycle paper and grow a garden. We will use paper from our campus recycling to create seed paper. We will then collect and use seeds from our garden to use in the seed paper. Seed paper can be used for many things such as note cards, invitations, or postcards. Once they are placed in soil and watered, they will begin to grow. Homemade seed paper cards are a unique gift that will keep on giving for years to come. It also makes a useful paper product that would otherwise end up in a landfill. A seed paper product is truly the one thing that is okay to litter! It will give new life to paper and the seeds that bloom into plants!

    Number of students reached: 36 | Grade: 9-12
  • Victoria Nickell

    "Flower Farming Club"

    Central Elementary School, San Diego County

    The objectives of our Flower Farming club include: the science of farming and the plant life cycle; sense of purpose/mental health, and wellness. Through the Flower Farming Club, students will gain many skills such as responsibility, math, critical thinking, philanthropy, and organizational skills. A bonus to the Flower Farming Club would be generating revenue for school activities that our school currently cannot afford to have. During this project, students will learn plant science, how to grow flowers from seed, and how farming can provide mental wellness and monetary income. They will learn skills that can help them build a career they love!

    Number of students reached: 800 | Grade: TK-5