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  • Armando's Autobody Partners with Delta High School on Community Garden

    A local business has partnered with Delta Highschool on a fruitful community project.
     
    It all started when Delta Highschool social science teacher, Jeff Cooper began a conversation with Armando Gonzalez, owner of Armando’s Autobody, while getting his vehicle repaired. He discussed his desire to expand the Delta Highschool garden, especially after the loss of the school garden at Joe Nightingale Elementary due to expansion of classrooms. It was then that this local business owner and farmer, Armando Gonzalez, learned about the use of the Delta garden to create and teach using a non-traditional classroom environment. 
     
    An alumni of Santa Maria highschool when Cooper taught at SMHS, Gonzalez excitedly jumped on board. Together, Armando met with Cooper, and drew up a plan for the garden to expand to six different stations and include labs for vertical gardening, edible landscaping design, composting, cut flowers, and soilless organic food production.  
     
    According to Cooper, “ I have been watching videos of organic farming and food production expanding across unique places such as the rooftops of New York skyscrapers and the vacant lots of Detroit and Los Angeles. I have known for years that as a society we moved away from growing our own food for a generation or two and it has really devastated our nutrition levels and produced a whole host of problems from increased obesity to epidemics of anxiety and depression. I was searching for a way to teach this “lost art” to our youth but lacked the resources and know-how to really take it to the next level. Armando is that expert.” 
     
    With the support of Mr. Gonzalez and his many partners providing both the materials and the expertise, the Delta school garden is undergoing a transformation. “This is a dream come true,” Cooper says.
     
    Said Tami Contreras, Delta’s Crisis Intervention Counselor, “Not only do our students gain more access to healthier fruits and vegetables by learning to grow food just about anywhere, but the actual gardening has a grounding effect and this has a well researched therapeutic impact for people needing social and emotional support, especially to help in recovery from trauma.”  
     
    “Ultimately, we want Delta to be a living laboratory where students and teachers and parents from local schools can tour, and take home both something good to eat and the knowledge of how to grow food in a sustainable and low maintenance way,” says Juan Sanchez, Biology Teacher. “In this direction, we will teach people how to reduce water consumption,reduce pesticides, and improve the soil in a safe way.”  
     
    Says Cooper, “He’s not just donating some money and hoping we do something productive with it. He (Armando) is actually helping us through every part of the process, problem solving, designing and building…this is a real commitment from a member of the business community and we rarely see this level coming from someone outside education...to be as committed to the students and their families as we are.” 
     
    Says Armando Gonzalez, “I am always looking for ways to support this community in Santa Maria where I grew up and where my family lives, and this project at Delta Highschool meets so many critical needs, all at once. I am just grateful for the opportunity to help.”