On May 9, 2012, the Castlemont Community Garden recieved notification that it had earned Bay Friendly Registration status.
The Bay Friendly School Garden program recognizes schools that meet sustainability criteria for living landscapes on campus. Schools must demonstrate that they are meeting or exceeding eligibility criteria in the following categories:
- Building Healthy Soil
- Reducing Waste in the Garden
- Conserving Water
- Creating Wildlife Habitat
- Protecting Local Watersheds and the Bay
- Contributing to a Healthy Community
- Saving Energy
- Encourage Play, Learning and Teaching in the Garden
- Building and Sustaining a Network of Support
Castlemont's garden is supported by a wide range of teachers, volunteers, and most importantly students. The garden provides a space for educational after school internships serving students from both Castlemont High School and Leadership Public School in a program called Green Pioneers- which has a motto: "Green is Good for Every Neighborhood"
Green Pioneer Program Coordinator Grace Proctor submitted the Bay Friendly Registration application and praised the student leaders focused on urban sustainability and entrepreneurship. This year, four students were promoted to garden managers and have responsibility for managing larger projects such as the construction of a tool shed (managed by Bernardo, an 11th grade student), the development of a plant nursery that generated over $300 in sales (managed by 10th grader, Oranjel), and day to day tasks like caring for the brood of hens cooped comfortably at the garden as well as planting, watering and maintaining the planter beds (managed by Omar, a senior; and Margie, a sophomore).
Proctor is working with students to expand internship opportunities, adding a project to build a mobile cooking cart and learning healthy recipes as a foundation for a new enterprize focused on food preparation.
Teacher Tim Bremner uses the garden to help students understand broad systems like the production, distribution, preparation, consumption and disposal of food in America. Other teachers have used the garden to help recent immigrant students learn English and scientific vocabulary. Recently, students completed construction on a green house and storage shed. They plan to install rain barrel catchment systems to sequester rain water from nearby building roof tops.
One reviewer of Castlemont's Bay Friendly application noted, "I was very impressed with the skills and commitment of the students who participate in the Castlemont Green Pioneers garden program. The innovative design and diverse scope of the program and site have created a successful model for other urban school gardens to emulate."