Calvert – 5th grade Garden Graduation

Hello Garden Friends,

IMG_1213This week we said goodbye to the 5th grade classes with a last tour of the garden and put together all of the things we learned earlier with a talk about systems. A system is a bunch of individual parts that work together to serve a function.

An organic garden is also a system. With raised beds, compost, greenhouse, plants, insects, and humans it functions to build soil and provide food for a diverse array of organisms. As we walked around the garden we talked about the role of the greenhouse, how it allows us to start baby plants which compete with weeds better than if we grew from seed. We talked about how the compost feeds the soil with nutrients – supporting plant and insect life. We talked about humans in the garden too. Our job, I argued, is to create the systems and facilitate healthy interactions between the plants, animals, and resources of the garden. By setting up a system that leaves the earth in better condition than we found it we create conditions for abundance.

I left the students with a final thought. Not all of us have the passion or skills required to be a farmer.. But everyone can function together in the same system. A musician can spread ideas, an athlete can inspire others by training hard and pushing themselves to the limit, a scientist can unlock technologies that bring us closer to a clean energy future. I told them, “It is up to you to decide your role in the system and whether your passions will add to or detract from the well-being of the whole.” They seemed to understand – only time will tell!

Until next week,

-Jeff Mailes


Jeff Mailes

Jeff Mailes is a garden designer and environmental educator working out of Woodland Hills, CA. A Los Angeles County Master Gardener and UC Davis Alumni, Jeff earned his B.S. in Environmental Resource Science in 2012 and has been growing edibles and natives for the past 6 years.

Jeff’s passion for plants and garden education has led him to school gardens from Los Angeles to Sacramento and all the way up to Portland, Oregon. Now familiar with ecosystems across the West Coast, Jeff has settled back home and works to bring people together over food and inspire the next generation of earth stewards to leave it better than they found it. When not writing about himself in the third person, Jeff enjoys singing with his guitar, going on camping and hiking excursions, and tossing a frisbee around with his friends.