Last week, students at The Athenian School shoveled soil for a good cause. In partnership with The Urban Farmers, volunteers created a campus fruit orchard that will benefit the Contra Costa Food Bank.
Students developed the orchard on a slope next to the school's baseball field with approximately 125 trees. The apples, pears, persimmons and olives from the trees will be collected throughout the year by students and Urban Farmers volunteers.
Led by social studies teacher Matt Zahner, Athenian's finance and operations director Bob Oxenburgh and UF's Siamack Sioshansi, volunteers planted terracing, built gopher cages and erected a deer fence to prepare the orchard site.
The orchard will also bring lessons to life. Last fall, Matt Zahner's seventh grade social studies class harvested 966 pounds of olives and produced olive oil as part of its study of Greek history.
The orchard project is the school's latest environmental/community service initiatives and confirms research that one of the best ways to combat hunger in urban areas is to grow more local food.