Any day during lunch, you can find middle schoolers and high schoolers alike enjoying the shade and fresh air of the garden.

In addition to being a popular place to hang out, the garden produces food year round.

It’s mostly a vegetable garden, says gardener Michael Covey, but there is also a native plant habitat, a pumpkin patch, a strawberry patch and more.

“We’re starting to build an orchard,” Covey said. “A tiny orchard.”

Tiny as it may be, the orchard features apples, pears, plums, pomegranates and olives.

The garden also donates hundreds of pounds a year to the Sacramento Food Bank.

“This summer we gave away 300 pounds of food, which is probably our biggest donation,” Covey said. The veggies were donated in five or six installments, each installment from 20-80 pounds.

The garden also donates in the winter, Covey said, but it doesn’t generate as much produce.

The garden is a part of education at Country Day as well. One project run by the third-grade class involves raising the “Three Sisters”—corn, beans and squash—that were the staple foods of many Native American tribes of the Southwest for centuries.

Another project promotes native plant habitats. The native flora also attract native fauna, such as monarch butterflies that feast on milkweed and native bees that live on goldenrod. Native bees, also known as solitary bees or “sweat bees” are unusual because they don’t form hives, as the word “solitary” suggests, according to Covey.

Of course, along with being educational, gardening can be just plain fun, said Covey.

“The kids really enjoy harvesting what they’ve grown,” Covey said. “They planted seeds and suddenly they’ve got this big head of broccoli a couple months later.

“Personally, I like (growing) kohlrabi—it looks like an alien. It’s a really interesting looking plant. Like something from Mars.”

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