Ah ha! Evidence of last year's students and their lunchtime mess-making. 

See video of picnic area volunteers. 9/2020

Solarizing to Eradicate Crab Grass - New project 9/2020
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 6th grade experiment with "compostable" dog waste bags. 9/2020

The West Side Elementary School campus is lucky enough to include several thriving garden areas. While the student garden has been established for a number of years, primarily used for garden classes and experimental garden projects (currently lush and frequently visited by Swallowtail and Mourning Cloak butterflies), there are three newer garden areas. 

 

In front of the office is a student-planted pollinator rock garden established recently to replace a water-wasting lawn. This project was a practical experience for the kids: creating a drought-resistant area, which includes - salvias, ceanothus, poppies etc.

 

 In addition, a side lawn was sheet-mulched by students and developed into a low-water use picnic area where three redwood trees were planted, several plums and two red japanese maples. 

 

Nearby is the redwood tree shade plant demonstration area and also a row of approximately 26 mature rose bushes which bloom prolifically several times a year. Bouquet-making is a favorite student activity.

 

 

Behind the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classrooms is the West Side Native Garden which straddles the jogging/walking track. Here, the kids transformed a weedy neglected area into a sage-lined path, complete with many examples of California native plants: Wild Lilac, Manzanita, Elderberry, Western Redbud, Pine, Salvias, Milkweed, Redwood, Sagebrush, Rush, etc. 

 

Students have created identification signs and continuously tend, study, and enjoy the native area. In addition, West Side Elementary also has a water catchment system where rainwater can be utilized to water the native garden when necessary. Students learn how native plants typically need less water than imported plants as natives are adapted to the long dry summers of Sonoma County.

 

The school resides on Mill and Felta Creeks within the Russian River Watershed where the Coho salmon are known to spawn. Students have access to the creek via the outdoor classroom, where the Department of Fish and Wildlife and other organizations utilize a fish study area. . 

 

Bird feeders, bird baths, nesting boxes and owl boxes are present on campus and utilized by the local wildlife. A large mural of the Russian River Watershed is also in progress as the latest edition to the garden and environmental education at West Side Elementary.