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posted May 25, 2017, 12:57 PM by Kristin Hernandez   [ updated Jun 6, 2017, 8:03 AM ]
Marcos Clark, Tony Penna, Tom Hoegerman, Valerie Smith, Jen Waite, Rafael Velasco, Jim Hopper, Norma Armenta, and student April L
Photos: Main- (Left to Right) Marcos Clark (Principal of Yucca Loma, effective July 1), Tony Penna (Liberty Utilities), Tom Hoegerman (Superintendent, AVUSD), Valerie Smith (Paul Swick Family Center Director, Yucca Loma), Jen Waite (parent volunteer), Rafael Velasco (Contemporary Landscaping), Jim Hopper (Director of Facilities and Maintenance, AVUSD), Norma Armenta (Liberty Utilities), and a first grade student. 

Left-Valerie Smith, Family Center Director, explains the plans for the garden renovation, which include a greenhouse and a water efficient irrigation system. 

Right-Students in Ms. Phillips' class participate in the "ground breaking". 

Valerie Smith, Family Center Director, explains the plans for the garden renovation, which include a greenhouse and a water efficient irrigation system.
On May 23, students, teachers, administrators, and community partners gathered to celebrate the scheduled renovation of the Yucca Loma School Garden at a special Ground Breaking Ceremony. The brief ceremony was led by Valerie Smith, Paul Swick Family Center Director at Yucca Loma Elementary School, and was attended by Principal Rey Rodriguez, future Principal Marcos Clark, Superintendent Tom Hoegerman, Director of AVUSD Facilities and Maintenance Jim Hopper, Tony Penna and Norma Armenta of Liberty Utilities, Rafael Velasco of Contemporary Landscaping, parent volunteer Jen Waite, and Ms. Phillips’ first grade class.

Smith opened the ceremony by recognizing Mojave Water Agency, Liberty Utilities, Contemporary Landscaping, and the students, staff, and parents at Yucca Loma for helping to make this project possible. Following the opening remarks, students were able to participate in the “ground breaking” by digging in a designated sandbox with plastic garden shovels. 

The renovations were made possible through funding provided by Mojave Water Agency, in partnership with Liberty Utilities. The renovation includes a green house and water efficient irrigation, and will allow the school to grow additional foods for school families while simultaneously providing a water efficient environment in which to grow them. The renovations are scheduled to begin May 30 and are projected to be complete by the end of June 2017.

Students dig in the sandbox with blue plastic shovels.
“The Yucca Loma School Garden has been a wonderful place for our community to gather, learn, exercise, and receive access to healthy foods, and we are so excited to see that impact grow even larger with this renovation,” said Kristin Hernandez, AVUSD Public Information Officer. “We would like to thank our community partners for their support and their generosity, which will allow for us to serve even more families while conserving more water.”

“Liberty Utilities Apple Valley is proud to support the Yucca Loma Elementary School Garden expansion,” said Norma Armenta, Conservation Specialist with Liberty Utilities.  “The garden will serve students, parents and the community in many ways including as a venue for hosting educational workshops on how to create a garden and teaching the importance of sustainability and using water responsibly. In addition, the garden’s harvest will be shared with the school’s families for healthy eating.” 

The Yucca Loma Garden was created 10 years ago in an attempt to encourage healthy eating and provide nutritious food for families in need. Since then, the garden has expanded to serve families from schools across the district and has become a popular location for family events, nutrition education, and physical activity classes.

“School-based projects are so important,” said Kimberly Cox, Mojave Water Agency Board President. “Teaching young students the natural beauty of native plants while teaching water conservation prepares the next generation to be good water stewards.”