Kyrene garden

Cerritos Elementary Principal Darcy DiCosmo (left) and Western Growers Foundation employee Briana Lewis (right) applaud Go Green chairperson Sloane Espey (center) Wednesday after the school received a grant from the Foundation. Aug. 25, 2010

Brian Johnson/AFN

Farming is making a comeback at two Kyrene schools, which have an extra $1,250 to grow their campus gardens.

The grant came from Western Growers Foundation and the Arizona Department of Agriculture. Twenty Arizona schools received grants, including Kyrene de los Cerritos and Kyrene de las Lomas in Ahwatukee Foothills.

Cerritos has been working on its campus garden since February and with the grant money will purchase things like new tools and seeds. Each grade level has its own section of the garden, growing things like bell peppers and watermelon.

Schools were required to send in an application for the grant to the WGF, which created the program in 2003 and is now sponsoring more than 400 schools.

The garden at Cerritos is unique in that its produce from last year's harvest went to the Kyrene Resource Center, part of the Kyrene Foundation, which provides supplies, food and other goods at a reduced price.

"It comes full-circle," Sloane Espey, chairwoman of the PTO's Go Green Committee, said. "It's a perfect marriage, and the kids get to see what they are doing here, how it is helping others."

The Cerritos garden is 100 percent organic, Espey said, and three different classrooms tend to it every day.

"We were so impressed by the great work the kids here are doing," said Briana Lewis, School Garden administrator for WGF. "It's great to see kids excited like this, and I know that with more funding, interest will only go up."

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