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El Camino Verde

verdeThe Concept: An Overview

As part of Colegio el Camino’s commitment to environmental and social sustainability, we are thrilled to announce the implementation of a program called El Camino VERDE. VERDE is dedicated to teach students to understand the earth and its ecosystems, humans’ impact on the planet, our impact on each other, and the importance of health and wellness to our success both as individuals and as a community.

The first project to be implemented into the VERDE program is The Edible Garden at Colegio el Camino. An on-site fruit, vegetable, and herb garden aimed at inspiring the study and implementation of:

  • Organic Permaculture farming
  • Innovative land use practices
  • Ethical business development
  • Sustainable living and design
  • Health and wellness
  • Conservation and self perpetuating natural systems

“Permaculture is about…saving the planet and living to be a hundred while throwing very impressive dinner parties and organizing other creatures to do most of the work” (Linda Woodrow)

Permaculture is a system of design based on the observation of nature’s 3.8 billion years of research and development.[1] Three ethics form the it’s foundations:
[1] Mollison, Bill. Introduction to Permaculture (1997)

  • Care of the Earth
  • Care of the People
  • Return of Surplus

Permaculture design is guided by these 12 principles:

  • Observe and interact
  • Catch and store energy
  • Obtain a yield
  • Apply self regulation and accept feedback
  • Use and value renewable resources and services
  • Produce no waste
  • Design from patterns to details
  • Integrate rather than segregate
  • Use small and slow solutions
  • Use and value diversity
  • Use edges and value the marginal
  • Creatively use and respond to change

Through the Edible Garden we will learn to grow, harvest, prepare, and share healthy and delicious food and work to promote practices that offer a solution to sustainability challenges within our community. It will also provide a platform to study the genius of natural systems – by studying the photosynthesis of a leaf we may get an idea of how to develop a better solar cell.[2]
[2] Benyus, Janine. Biomimicry:Innovation Inspired by Nature (1997)

As a community, we need positive solutions and realistic tools to deal with the environmental challenges we increasingly face. This program aims at inspiring and motivating us all to make a difference.[3]
[3] WHO Global School Health Initiative (2005)

School gardens are becoming widely recognized as valuable contributors to educational innovation across the curriculum by providing a dynamic interactive setting for hands-on education, as well as an alternative learning environment for “non-academic” thinkers.[4] are two of the most important aspects which will determine the success of the project. It is a collaborative effort of the whole community, experiencing first-hand the challenges and rewards of their commitment and cooperation.
[4] (FAO) Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (SPFS 2004)

Key elements in the design of our Edible garden:

  • Shaded outdoor teaching space for up to 25 people
  • Fruit, vegetable, and herb growing areas for seasonal growth
  • Raised planting beds for ease of interaction
  • Fruit trees and other useful perennial plants
  • Comfortable outdoor seating
  • Nursery area
  • Outdoor composting area
  • Integrated rainwater harvesting and efficient water use features

Professional Pathways and Community Service

Natural systems ultimately succeed through connections, collaboration, and symbiosis and so will we. VERDE intends to become a collaborative effort between the academic, business, and local communities, working together to:

  • Acknowledge the importance of collaborators to grow and thrive
  • Provide vocational opportunities for El Camino’s community
  • Build resilience as a community through cooperative resource management
  • Provide a medium for businesses to connect and give back locally
  • Provide a thorough understanding of the inherent economic viability of an edible garden and its derivatives
  • Realize limitations to individual abilities/resources and building mutually beneficial partnerships
  • Enrich the community by sharing resources, knowledge, and skills
  • Learn to manage the growth of a business while maintaining the highest ethical and environmental standards

Proposal: to the El Camino community

“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand.” (Confucius 551 BC-479 BC)

Active learning is widely accepted as the most effective way for children to learn by enhancing a student’s understanding of their environment and the results of their actions. El Camino Verde will help to fund the Edible garden project through fundraising and sponsorship and ensure that its precepts permeate the entire school experience.

Students:

A school garden offers a particularly rich and diverse learning environment where students from Pre-K through High School will have a living classroom or outdoor laboratory for academic subjects such as natural sciences, mathematics, languages, logical analysis, even the arts. Students will practice social and life skills by building practical “know how” and participate in classes dedicated to nutrition and wellness. A portion of the curriculum will be dedicated to experiential learning through the Edible Garden and Verde’s future sustainability initiatives.

The program is designed to expose students to the entire cycle of organic agriculture from

  • architectural planning
  • seed selection and soil preparation
  • care and harvesting,
  • commercialization
  • utilization of the produce in their primary stage as well as naturally processed through to recycling (waste, proceeds, learning) back into the Garden.

High School students will participate through the International Baccalaureate CAS (Community, Activity, Service) program which involves students in a range of activities alongside their academic studies.

The three strands of CAS, which are often interwoven with particular activities, are characterized as follows:

Creativity – arts, and other experiences that involve creative thinking.
Activity – physical exertion contributing to a healthy lifestyle, complementing academic work elsewhere in the DP.
Service – an unpaid and voluntary exchange that has a learning benefit for the student. The rights, dignity and autonomy of all those involved are respected.

In order to demonstrate these concepts, students are required to undertake a CAS Project. The project challenges students to:

  • show initiative
  • demonstrate perseverance
  • develop skills such as collaboration, problem solving and decision making.

CAS enables students to enhance their personal and interpersonal development by learning through experience. It provides opportunities for self-determination and collaboration with others, fostering a sense of accomplishment and enjoyment from their work. At the same time, CAS is an important counterbalance to the academic pressures of the DP. [5]
[5] (IBO) International Baccalaureate Organization 

A significant portion of the Garden’s produce will be marketed and sold by students through farmers markets and CSA (community supported agriculture) programs as well as used to improve students nutrition by integrating fresh organic produce into school meals. The balance will be used to help pay for the setup costs.

Parents:

The full potential of the Edible Garden is achieved when the parents and community become actively involved and especially when gardening techniques, eating habits, and sustainable practices are adopted in the students´ homes. The entire community will have access to Verde’s resources such as acquiring organic seeds and plants, delicious healthy recipes, and through seminars (at cost recovery prices) with experts in the fields of sustainable design, nutrition, planting and fertilizing, pest control, composting, recycling and healthy food preparation.

Teachers:

The Edible Garden will provide teachers with the opportunity to break away from the books and immerse their students in the academic subject. Lesson plans will be developed with the help of Verde’s resources to bring subjects alive through active learning and increase the quality and relevance of the subject matter. Through the garden, teachers will help students to develop critical thought and recognize that asking the right question can be more important than giving the right answer.

Proposal to Sponsors

El Camino Verde will be funded through tax deductible donations to El Camino initially earmarked exclusively for the Edible Garden. As a non profit, any and all proceeds generated will be reinvested first and foremost into the Edible Garden project (its perpetuation, improvement and expansion) and then into Verde’s future initiatives focused on long term sustainability, cooperative resource management, healthy living, and nutrition and wellness education to help all school members, stakeholders, and the greater Cabo community live healthier.

Sponsors will receive a tax deductible donation receipt and will be recognized on a plaque in the edible garden as well as on the El Camino website under the Verde project. Donors will be guests of honor at the yearly inauguration harvest and Garden Party where their generosity will be publicly recognized.

El Camino Verde is looking for one main business Sponsor, with activity in the Food/Farming industry, who has the following characteristics:

  • Working knowledge the Food Industry
  • a commitment to Ethical Business Practices
  • a strong commitment to Organic, Sustainable, Green practices
  • a strong commitment to giving back to the local community

EL Camino Verde wants to request from the right business partner that fulfills the criteria above the following:

  • Funding for any shortfalls to El Camino’s fundraising efforts (7,000-12,000 USD) for setup costs.
  • Operating Expenses to keep the garden’s production aspects within the specifications required by the Partners consumers (800-1500/month).
  • Vocational Opportunities through internships and similar classes that will convey to El Camino’s stakeholders (parents, teachers, students) the business aspects associated with the produce generated by the Edible Garden.
  • Volunteer labor when needed for harvest or similar activities from the ranks of the business.
  • 10% of the Gross revenue produced from tours and client interactions in the Garden.
  • Access to the Garden (supervised if necessary) for El Camino’s educational community

El Camino Verde wants to offer the Business Sponsor:

  • For the first 5 years:
    • A vote on the Verde board and guest seat at El Camino’s executive council for co-operation of the pedagogic implementation of Verdes educational component.
    • 75% of all produce from the Edible Garden (at direct cost given sponsor is paying for operating expenses)
    • Exclusive rights to market Culinary Academies
    • Control of the produce that is planted
    • Control of upkeep standards
    • Direction of the planting, care,and harvesting activities for quality control purposes
  • For the subsequent time period
    • Preferred pricing of up to 75% of the produce from the Edible Garden

Oversight of the planting, caring and harvesting practices for quality control purposes.

 

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