Scrumptious Schoolyards

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Co-Founders: Devon Azzam (left) & Danan McNamara (right)

As a former second grade teacher of eight years at Cardiff Elementary, Devon Azzam decided to take a risk to open a non-profit organization and pursue her passion of outdoor education.

Scrumptious Schoolyards is a nonprofit that Devon started with a colleague, Danan Mcnamara in 2010 with the help of a Non-Profit Kit for Dummies book!  Their mission statement is to create organic gardens and edible landscapes that provide active, hands-on learning environments and establish the foundation for a school’s curriculum, culture, and food program.

The first project is the development of an edible landscape at Cardiff School and the Grow Your Lunch Program where students grow food for the school cafeteria. The goal is to have all students gardening with a credentialed teacher weekly throughout the school year.  Each class at Cardiff School will garden for 7 consecutive weeks producing food for the school cafeteria’s salad bar, as well as to sell at local restaurants and the local market.  Devon and Danan want to do ongoing food – so that the majority of the salad bar is produce from the garden starting with lettuce and hopefully extending to carrots and sugar snap peas.

Proud that Devon is a member-owner of our co-op and community, I caught her on the phone to pick her brain about her non-profit.

How you do create your curriculum?

Mostly, curriculum is based on what’s happening in the garden.  The children are completely accountable for the well-being of the garden from seed to plant.  I choose themes for the year and leverage pieces from already existing curriculum too.  This year, with our 20 raised beds, we are learning the difference between crop-rotation and mono-cropping. In our pollinator garden, we learn how animals and plants depend on each other for food production.  Students learn how organic gardening practices can benefit the earth.

How did you get funding for Scrumptious Schoolyards?

We received preliminary funding from the Rob Machado Foundation to do the initial “pilot program.”  Scrumptious Schoolyards was funded for two years until the foundation decided to support water focused programs and stopped the funding.  We applied for grants but were not able to really qualify, so we had to look to the community to support outdoor education for kids.

Thankfully, we had attended school fundraisers and made an effort to have personal contact with like-minded community members.   One community member donated the tangerine and apple orchard, which each have ten trees located near the soccer field.  Another member funded the twenty raised beds (see pictures below), and so on and so forth.  For every step we had to take, we were able to find community support to keep things moving along.  The entire project, plus my salary for teaching the program was paid for by donations from the Cardiff Community. A great example of what a community can do if they put their minds to it 🙂

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What are a couple of your goals for Scrumptious Schoolyards?
A short-term goal is to increase the number of days I teach to two days a week and my long term goal is to replicate this program in the schools of San Clemente. Ultimately, I’d love for my kids to be able to participate in the program once they get to that age.

Do you foresee any obstacles being able to do that here in San Clemente?

Since I’m not familiar with school districts here in San Clemente, I would say that would be one obstacle.  I found that having the support of the school administration was an important part of our program’s success.

Would you be okay with people contacting you about Scrumptious Schoolyards?

It certainly couldn’t hurt to start the relationships and contacts now since I haven’t really had a chance to do that yet.

We’re working on a wishlist still but we can accept donations HERE via paypal.

For any inquiries or wishes to manifest a Scrumptious Schoolyard, I can be emailed and contacted at devonazzam@gmail.com

Pictures are from a work party on January 12th, where 60+ members of the Cardiff Community came out to help fill 20 new raised beds with a “soil parfait” including juice pulp and coffee grounds, alfalfa, soaked cardboard, compost, and organic fertilizer.

 

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