The Grow Quad project at Harbor High School has transformed a dusty patch of this public high school campus into a lush and productive edible forest commons.
We began our rehabilitation efforts, in 2013, on a barren, compacted construction staging area adjacent to the campus’ main quad. Through the voluntary, extracurricular efforts of nearly two hundred enthusiastic teenagers we have built soil fertility, increased rainwater capture and moisture holding capacity, and established dozens of species of food-bearing plants, perennial herbs and flowering California natives. Among the edibles, the Grow Quad showcases a dozen and a half fruit bearing trees–pomes, stonefruit, citrus, and more–to increase in vigor and productivity each year with our care, and leave a lasting living legacy to nourish this educational community.
With each of our garden workshops, we share and learn concrete lessons in agroecology: energy and nutrient cycles, plant physiology, soil science, climate and seasonality, and the urban wildlife interface. Now in our second phase, we are building additional infrastructure to bolster the comfort and utility of this outdoor classroom for holistic studies in the physical sciences, practical agricultural skillsets, general nature study and reflection, and related arts.