Manna Project Update, November 2018

By: Namrata Dutta, Manna Project Coordinator

I am Namrata Dutta, hosting the Manna Project for the Sycamore Canyon School garden. I hope all of you are safe and sound after the eventful last week.

Our Manna Project was started with the intention of growing vegetables to make a steady contribution to the local food bank situated in Thousand Oaks. Our garden is completely organic, with soil, compost, fertilizer and seeds, and labor … all organic.

We meet every Friday morning at 8:30 to show some love to our garden which sometimes might include trimming away at over growths but mostly trying our best to grow vegetables in our planters. We are helped by our visiting classrooms three Fridays every month. The classrooms that come out to help us are Mrs. Baron’s 4th graders and Mrs. Smith’s 6th graders every month. Thank you to these amazing kids and teachers.

The Manna Project in the garden educates the students in so many ways… it is a hands on experience (for some of them 1st time) to learn about the science of nature and plants and then agriculture. It is a wonderful experience observing their reactions in touching soil, sometimes the worms who have made it their home and then being amazed by the fact that a tiny seed gets food from soil (which still amazes me) to grow into a beautiful robust plant. Of course it is not as easy as it sounds…. the challenges are plentiful for the tiny seed to grow. It can be the dry Santa Ana winds which can wither any sapling or make the soil dry and dusty like the dust bowl or it can be our occasional critter visitors who of course adores our garden. I have to give it to their determination…. they gnawed through almost all our rabbit deterring cages we had built last year. They found food on only one planter but with sheer determination checked out all the other barren planters too. It was a surprise to us because last year these same cages kept them away for us to have bountiful harvest.

This October we weeded and loosened the soil, added fertile soil and compost, and fertilizer too. We then planted cauliflower, cabbage, turnip, carrot, onion, chard, rutabaga, lettuce seeds. We are hoping to see some crops growing, but with the extreme dry conditions I’m hoping our watering system will be able to keep up.

Hoping by the end of this year, to have some vegetables to harvest.

Manna 11 2018


Cheers to our Volunteers!

Behind every great event there is a great team.  Our deepest gratitude and appreciation to our awesome volunteers for another magnificent Culture at the Garden event!  Mexico: Dia de los Muertos!  We couldn’t have done this without you!

  • Cultural Advisor:  Imelda Fuentes Bailey
  • Planning Committee: Imelda Fuentes Bailey, Jo Louie, Marivic Marko, Subha Tholudur, Marie Turner
  • Preparation Team: Namrata Dutta, Puja Kaushik, Alex Lagrave, Jen Lunney, Marivic Marko, Anette Power, Subha Tholudur, Marie Turner, Eszter Zubovics
  • Artists: Jodi Bobb; SCS Art SCAEP
  • Photographer: Stacy Gleason
  • Music: Mr. Palomino and his Middle School String Mariachi!!
  • Performance: Ballet Folklorico Mestizo of Oxnard College; Daniela Palomino
  • Community Volunteers: Amgen Latino Employees Network (Edgar Romo, Nicole Fuentes, Aglaee Rivera-Milan, James & Lisa Bonomo).
  • Event Volunteers: Janice Ahumada, Alicia Andrae, Liz Armstrong, Sonceriae Armstrong, Charles Bailey, Imelda Fuentes Bailey, Darshna Bhamre, Jodi Bobb, Judy Caples, Namrata Dutta, Lori Frankfort, Evan Frankfort, Samatha Gummadi, Alex Lagrave, Amanda Lee, Chriss Lyons, Marivic Marko, Alia Matthews, Tina Mortillaro, Delia Perez, Anette Power, Linda Razavi-Ford, Christina Shaffer, Subha Tholudur, Archana Timmaraju, Marie Turner, Emily Tutt, Cindy Wu, Eszter Zubovics, Karla Luna de Redondo, Brandy Rosero, Yama Simonetti, Gloria Best, Victoria Bennett, Sophia Diaz

Team MexicoVolunteers Mexico

Builders Club In The Garden

By Nicholas Marko, 8th grade student and three years Builders Club MemberBuilders Club at the Garden (16)

On September 18, Builders Club helped tidy up the garden.

When we arrived, there were branches all over the garden and it looked like a lot of plants had grown over the summer. The path had some plants growing into it. Mrs. Louie talked to us about what needed to be done in the garden. The members were split up into groups and assigned jobs.

The Garden Committee coordinators Mrs. Louie, Mrs. Marko and Mr. Malouf lead the effort. They were aided by about one hundred members of Builders Club and some of their parents in weeding the garden, clearing the planter beds, deadheading plants to encourage further blooming, and removing trash. Builders Club members and the adult volunteers worked for about an hour, and at that point the garden was looking a lot better.

It felt good to help out with the work that had to be done in the garden, and it made me personally feel a little bit closer to nature while being productive and keeping the garden in good condition.

Editor’s Note:  Special thanks to Builders Club advisor Mrs. Young for bring out her club members to assist the Garden with our Fall clean-up, and to the fabulous parents of the club members who joined us for the effort.  You’ve helped us build our community!

Chris Boudreau Completes Eagle Project With “Pit Discovery”

Congratulations to 17 year old Chris Boudreau of Boy Scout Troop 754 for completing his Eagle Project with the Garden, building the long awaited simulated archaeological dig site “Pit Discovery” for the Sycamore Canyon School students, and refurbishing the surrounding fences for the Edible Lab.

Chris raised over $900 to finance his effort through a GoFundMe page he created and shared with friends, family, and the community via Facebook.  He was also successful in obtaining support from the local businesses with sand donated by Mr. Haigh of Bonanza Concrete Inc., cases of water for the work days from Hollywood Storage, as well as coffee from Starbucks for the first day of the project.

An estimated total of 42 hours was spent by Chris for planning and preparation, with an additional 287 hours of work provided collectively by Chris and his recruited team of volunteers to complete the project.

The beautifully constructed dig site Chris built will provide enriching hands-on environment for SCS students to learn, explore and discover for years to come.  We applaud Chris for his accomplishment, achieving the highest scout honor of Eagle, and for his contribution to our community.

Ms. Thomson’s Class Gift Help Our Garden Glow

Thank you Ms. Thomson and your wonderful first grade class for gifting the Garden with a class gift of a rainbow Gaze Globe!

This decorative, shining stainless steel gazing mirror ball not only add a bit of fun spice to our Garden, the kindness bestowed to our school’s nature space will be treasured now and for years to come.  Thank you so much for your gift!!


Proud Harvest

By: Jo Louie, Garden Committee Chair

20180606_104246SCS’s Manna Project concluded this year with the delivery of two giant boxes of produce donated to the oldest Conejo Valley food bank organization, Manna.  This brings our donation grand total for this academic year to 7 boxes and 13 bags of fresh, SCS Garden grown produce.

This contribution could not be possible without the partnership of the following 20180601_105027dedicated adult volunteers: Namrata Dutta (parent), Judy Caples (grandma), Athena Fischer (community volunteer), Sonceriae Armstrong (parent), Alia Mathews (parent), as well as Alia’s husband, father in-law, also John Taillon (Mrs. Taillon’s husband) whom have assisted with their carpentry skills.

A big THANK YOU also goes out to the teachers and their classrooms that came to the Edible Lab to assist with Manna.  A very special THANK YOU goes to Mrs. Baron and her 4th grade class, who had participated biweekly to this project.  A very special IMG_3013bond was formed between all of us that have worked with the students.  Getting the children to understand the magnitude of their deeds, and what they are doing to help contributing to our community, is a very gratifying experience.  As Mrs. Baron’s class worked with the Manna Project the most, we feel especially close to these youth.  Over the course of the year, they have grown and developed the kindred spirit to help and assist others in need, while at the same time taking care of the environment that provides us with life.  We too share Mrs. Baron’s pride in the student’s accomplishments and growth as healthy, compassionate human being.

Thank you all for a wonderful year!!