submitted by Susan and Tony DiStefano
Gardens have an amazing ability to provide us with beauty and bounty that give sustenance to our bodies and souls. There’s nothing quite like sharing the magic that a garden can bring, especially when that magic is experienced through the eyes of a child.
Orinda Garden Club member Susan DiStefano has been bringing that magic to the children of Orinda’s schools for more than twenty years and she’s about to undertake a major project to rebuild and refresh the gardens at Miramonte High School.
Susan’s work began at Sleepy Hollow Elementary School back in the 1990’s. What began as a hillside bird and butterfly garden to bring more pollinators to the school led to the creation of an organic vegetable garden. Hundreds of children continue to attend regular class time in the garden where they both learn about and are fascinated by the fruits and vegetables that grow year round. Susan attributes Sleepy Hollow’s success to the combination of a committed principal and devoted parent volunteers. (Teaching "Z" for zenias at Sleepy Hollow School.)
During the spring of 2020, as the pandemic shuttered our schools and shrank our worlds, Susan visited a number of Orinda’s schools and reached out to their principals. She knew that she had found the perfect opportunity when she heard back from the principal at Del Rey Elementary School. The garden at Del Rey was completely overgrown with weeds throughout.
By the summer of 2021, the Del Rey Garden had been completely transformed. Although Susan was still committed to both Sleepy Hollow and Del Rey, she was ready for her next project.
Hearing that there was a new principal at Miramonte High School, Susan reached out and requested a meeting. The meeting couldn’t have gone better. Plans were developed to transform Miramonte’s two gardens into gardens that Miramonte students will be able to both learn in and enjoy for years to come. (Miramonte's garden pictured at left.)
Orinda Garden Club co-presidents Laura Sawczuk and Linda Thompson recently joined Susan for a tour of the Miramonte and Del Rey gardens. Laura Sawczuk, co-president, commented: “We are all so awed and grateful for Susan’s generosity, leadership and gardening expertise in the Orinda elementary schools over decades. We strongly support the proposed renovation of the Miramonte gardens, which will provide an oasis for the students and many educational opportunities".
Thank you , Susan!