The Peace Garden - Planting the Seed

In 2010-2011, a Garden Committee was established to consider ways to enhance the middle school garden areas and bring it into the educational program.  At the time, there were only two members of this committee who met with Mark Rice, Master Gardener of Pasadena to brainstorm ideas and get a better understanding of what would be involved in revamping this area.  During this period of the garden’s history, we were mainly considering planting in the existing garden boxes.

In 2011-2012, the School Head made the decision to expand the thinking about the garden “outside the boxes” and to develop a vision of a garden in the entire open space at the back of the school.  The Garden Committee then grew to include parents, alumni, alumni parents, and grandparents, and they began to explore the possibilities of a more substantial garden project. They established a website on Shutterfly with pictures and information related to various visits to local and national gardens.  They visited “The Farm” at the Huntington Library, Arlington Garden in Pasadena, John Muir High School Garden, Garden in Virginia, etc.

They also established goals for the garden. Click here for more details.

The Committee also began applying for grants and added the school to the Edible Schoolyard site created by Alice Waters of Chez Panisse in Berkeley, California.

In 2012-2013, the school enlisted the skills and talents of La Loma Development Company, a landscape architectural firm in Pasadena, to design a creative space for the fulfillment of the Peace Garden goals.  To gather ideas from the school constituencies, the year began with a Faculty Retreat at Descanso Gardens.  Here, the School Head conducted a workshop on “Integrating Garden-based Learning” into the school curriculum and creating a vision for the Peace Garden.  Teachers worked together to pool their ideas for the garden space and developed lesson ideas for using garden-based literature in their classrooms.  A game of Garden Pictionary was followed by a Scavenger Hunt through Descanso Garden for teachers to discover exciting ideas for the garden.

Teachers then shared the garden-based literature with their students and solicited writings and drawings on garden design.  The Garden Committee and the Middle School Garden Club then presented their ideas as well as the drawings of the students and faculty to La Loma in the November charrette (planning session that offers a forum for sharing ideas).  From there, La Loma used these as inspiration for their design.  

The final design includes a pond and a “Salam” path, a pathway in the shape of the Arabic script, stretching along the length of the garden which leads to other areas such as a composting area, a native plant area, and keyhole garden beds for vegetable gardening. Other exciting features can be found in the garden including Silk Road Herbs and Spices along the peace path, a fruit orchard, and a Friendship Fountain that celebrates the friendships between the school and other organizations and individuals of different faiths.  A quiet meditation corner and seating areas that invite students to work together on interdisciplinary units in language arts, math, science, art, and music, complete the space.

In 2013-2014, the Garden Committee has been working diligently to find a landscape architect and begin the fundraising in order to break ground and complete our vision.   

Peace Garden Featured on the National Geographic website

In 2016, National Geographic selected the NHSP seventh grade service learning project on water conservation to feature as one of their Next Generation Environmental Leaders Projects.
Through this project, students learned about ways to conserve water through the building of berms and swales in the Peace Garden.  They also planted natives and Mediterranean herbs on the berms. For this service learning focus, New Horizon Pasadena was the only California school out of 14 schools nationwide that were featured on the site.     
Garden Coordinator Tahereh Sheerazie and Science Teacher Kavitha Satya worked with the students while Naturalists Lynn Fang and Yara Herrarte developed the first berm and swale in the Garden.  Leigh Adams, L.A. County Arboretum artist-in-residence, provided oversight on the water harvesting projects as well as other features of the Peace Garden.  

See the NHSP video on the Nat Geo website by clicking here!  

Peace Garden Dedication Ceremony 

In April, 2017, we held our Peace Garden Dedication Ceremony where we celebrated how far the Peace Garden had come and thanked all those who made the dream come true. With over 300 people filling up the auditorium, the school and wider community joined together to recognize the efforts of students, parents and community members who saw the potential in our new garden space.

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