Eastern Sierra Land Trust (ESLT) is turning heads, toward the bright yellow blooms of sunflowers peeking over the fence on Home Street. The ESLT garden has been bursting with color, a product of a partnership with Bishop Elementary third grade classrooms and the 4H Sunflower Group to grow sunflowers in the ESLT garden.
In late April ESLT began the 2012 Sunflower Project to teach children about the plant world including plant parts, what a plant needs to grow, composting and pollination. The ESLT AmeriCorps member and Education Coordinator, Victoria Ortiz, organized the project in conjunction with teachers Victoria Hamilton and Susan Jensen and 4H leader Jeff Griffiths. The students planted their sunflowers in late April, and returned every couple weeks to measure their growth. The group culminated the project with a special Sunflower Party, complete with snacks and arts and crafts. Every time the train of 48 kids made their way to the ESLT garden the office transformed into an energetic flurry of rolly polly collections, pollination chalk drawings on the driveway, and rulers held next to sprouting sunflowers.
A dedicated group of volunteers kept the rowdy crowd focused on their lessons, including local vermiculture specialist Ernie Vargas, who brought in worms and gave a compost demonstration to the delight and astonishment of the children. “I am very grateful to everyone who made the project possible. I was surprised by the constant enthusiasm and the amount of information the students retained. This program is so important for connecting our youth with the intricate, amazing classroom found outside,” said Ortiz.
Eastern Sierra Land Trust boasts a robust community connections program that features various educational events throughout the year. Their upcoming Family Day on Aug. 11 will include games and wild edibles for the entire family. ESLT will also host a stargazing party on Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. at Horton Creek Campground. In addition to connecting people to the land, ESLT works to protect vital lands and preserve a healthy balance of uses — from ranching to biking, wildlife habitats to favorite fishing spots — that can be sustained forever, ensuring a strong local economy and healthy environment for generations to come. Visitors are welcome to stop by the office and garden at 176 Home St. to see the beautiful results of the Sunflower Project or call them at 760.873.4554 to find out how to get involved. –Press Release