The San Diego Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), in partnership with the Friends of Ruffin Canyon and the ACE Mentor Program, has completed the design and installation of an educational and native garden, "The HabiTaft Garden," for William H. Taft Middle School in Serra Mesa.
At the May 31 dedication, Principal Mike George welcomed guests, followed by remarks from Superintendent Bill Kowba and Food Services Director Gary Petill of the San Diego Unified School District. The celebration included demonstrations on composting, worms, planting and San Diego flora.
ASLA named The HabiTaft Garden its 2011 Legacy Project because it presented an ideal forum for reconnecting children with the environment and exposing them to the practice of landscape architecture. Installation of the garden began October 2011 with school officials, landscape architects, students and the Friends of Ruffin Canyon digging in.
ASLA volunteers developed and hosted design workshops for ACE Mentor High School students as part of the Legacy Project. The first workshop taught students how to prepare a site-analysis plan by observing and documenting existing site conditions. Subsequent workshops, held at The NewSchool of Architecture and Design in downtown San Diego, led students through the stages of the landscape architecture design process, beginning with conceptualization and ending with construction documents.
During the workshops, students learned about the value and diversity of canyon land and watersheds in San Diego and how they related to their site. They learned about urban agriculture and the benefits of reconnecting to natural processes through gardening. Students completed their site analysis, programmed the site, generated a master plan for the campus and designed a small educational garden, which they helped construct at Taft Middle School.
In the next stage of the Legacy Project, Taft will develop curriculum that allows students to discover nature, investigate history and celebrate culture through working and learning in the garden.
The HabiTaft garden is universally accessible, providing opportunities for children of all abilities to explore San Diego's rich and diverse landscape. The Friends of Ruffin Canyon will use the garden's greenhouse to grow seedlings that will be planted in Ruffin Canyon, adjacent to Taft Middle School.
The HabiTaft Garden Legacy Project celebrates the mission of the American Society of Landscape Architects, which is to lead, educate and participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning and artful design of our cultural and natural environments.