Gardening Program Returns to Point Dume Marine Science School

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Point Dume Marine Science School first graders join parent volunteer Aimee Przybylski (top left), local farmer Larry Thorne (top middle), volunteer Laura Plagmann (top row, third from left), first grade teacher Charlotte Campbell (top row, right) and PTA President Gabi Frank (kneeling, center left) for an afternoon of gardening.

Malibuites may have a new place to get their fresh produce: Point Dume Marine Science School.

It’s still hypothetical at this point, according to PDMSS Parent Teacher Association President Gabi Frank, but if the school’s student council is supportive, it’s a likely scenario.

The gardening program—a cornerstone of Point Dume’s education curriculum—has been resurrected after a hiatus, which Frank said was due to a focus on testing and scores. Parents pushed for its return and so, with the help of PDMSS Principal Mark Demick and local farmer Larry Thorne, it did.

“We met up with Larry Thorne, who immediately wanted to be part of it and volunteer his time, know-how [and] expertise,” Frank said in a phone call with The Malibu Times. “He donated seeds. He came up with a curriculum and worked with our parent volunteers.” 

The program itself is “well-underway,” having started earlier this year. 

“We restarted the program [through] primarily parent volunteers with a couple of teacher leads,” Demick said.

Currently, primary school-aged students—in kindergarten, first and second grades—participate in the program as an extra-curricular due to its mid-year start. He hopes to integrate the program into students’ regular schedules for the upcoming 2018-19 school year.

Thorne recently helped students plant sprouts in the garden and is donating supplies and tools for the children. 

The school site is equipped to handle the gardening program with its pre-existing gardening beds; the beds are currently being refurbished for the next school year. 

“In fact, Larry wants to bring a farm truck to the school every Sunday to sell fruits and vegetables with the kids,” Frank said, adding that they’re considering “a type of farmers market that our children will be in charge of.” 

The PDMSS student council would collaborate with Thorne Family Farm to put on the weekly event. Additionally, Frank said she hopes to use the homegrown vegetables in salads, as part of a possible “lunch offering” for the kids.

To teach the kids about the garden’s potential in real world situations, first grade parent Aimee Przybylski helped facilitate a field trip for students to her workplace at Upward Bound House in Santa Monica. The nonprofit organization deals with homelessness among families in the Los Angeles area.

“She [Przybylski] works at Upward Bound, which provides housing and occupational training and a farming program for homeless families,” Frank described. “We took the children that are part of the gardening program on a field trip to Santa Monica to see the facilities of Upward Bound and go to their gardening program.

“We wanted the kids to see how other organizations are helping the homeless situation in a very positive and proactive way.”  

Though unsure of the specifics, Frank said a collaboration with Upward Bound could be another potential next step for the program.