Green Argonne

Argonne has been designated as a school demonstration site for San Francisco’s Grey2Green project, a collaboration between the San Francisco Botanical Garden, SF Parks Trust and the Department of Public Works.

Project Scope

  • Transform several sections of sidewalk along Cabrillo into a drought-tolerant California native garden (three 16×5 foot beds beginning near 18th Avenue), potentially with benches for classroom and community use.
  • Reclaim the former garden space adjacent to the school property to create an edible garden, install rainwater harvesting barrels and create habitat to attract pollinators.
  • Once we secure funding, create a mural along the external wall of the K yard to tie into the garden/sustainability theme.

Why a Garden at Argonne?
Expand the rich learning opportunities at Argonne. Research confirms that garden-based educational programs can positively affect the learning environment and student attitudes toward learning, resulting in increased attention and enthusiasm for the educational process. Anecdotally, we’ve heard principals and teachers share that it has improved math and science scores and created greater enthusiasm in the subjects among a wider group of students.

Increase experiential learning for our children. Parents in San Francisco want more experiential learning opportunities for their children and our kids want to interact with something more than asphalt or a classroom desk over the course of their 6-hour (or more) day. This program is not envisioned as another extracurricular option for classes. Rather, it is meant to offer a way to engage students in an interactive setting that inspires their imagination.

Learning in the garden can be aligned directly with California teaching standards. We view the garden as an opportunity for interested staff to teach existing curriculum (science, math, geography, language arts, social studies) outdoors to engage students in an alternative way. Many schools throughout SFUSD are using their garden in precisely this way.

This project will transform our community in many positive ways, including:

  • Replacing concrete with vegetation will reduce storm water runoff and issues of sewer overflow, in keeping with priorities for City of San Francisco and the SF Department of Public Works, among others
  • Creating habitat for pollinators, including birds, bees and butterflies that adds beauty and improves the urban ecosystem
  • Involving a school community that adds not only to the education of youth but allows for enduring partnerships between a local public school, its neighbors, and city leadership
  • Introducing public art in the Richmond district that will add vibrancy and attractiveness to the community
  • Creating, maintaining and integrating school curriculum by involving the school community provides excellent experiential learning opportunities while promoting stewardship among our youngest residents.

History of Green Argonne and Work to Date

Green Argonne was formed in Fall 2009 as a PTO work group intent on tackling a couple of issues at school: beautification, increasing opportunities to green our campus, and removing the use of harmful chemicals from our school.

To date, we’ve toured nearly a dozen school-based garden programs throughout SFUSD, repainted and cleaned up the K yard, added tiles painted by Argonne students at Field Day to the front entrance of the school, enrolled in SFUSD’s green cleaning program, organized Green Up, Clean Up for the main yard and built six planter boxes for classroom use under the solar panel. This year, we received a First5 grant to focus on parent leadership development as we green our campus. We also secured a partnership with KidServe to create the mural on the outside wall of the multi-purpose room in the school yard.