Scout gets help from community to finish science garden

Girl Scout Elyssa Kanter, a junior at La Jolla High School, designed and implemented an AP Environmental Science Garden on school grounds as the project for her Gold Award.

The new Viking Science Garden includes a San Diego coastal indigenous and edible garden. The gardens cover some 1,000 square feet of the northeast side of the football field.

Before completing the project, Elyssa had to raise funds, clear the grounds, and learn how to plant a garden. The results yielded an edible garden with herbs such as rosemary, Mexican sage and two different types of lavender; citrus trees, including Oro Blanco (a coastal citrus cross between a grapefruit and palmello), Valencia and naval oranges, a lemonade tree and a fig tree. Other garden edibles included three types of pumpkins and several artichokes.

The indigenous garden includes coastal sunflowers, black and Cleveland sage, monkey flowers, fuchsias, blue-eyed grass, lemonade berries and California poppies.

La Jolla High School alum Julia Dashe, creator of City College Seeds Project, consulted with Elyssa and gave her a large bag of fava beans that the AP Environmental Science teachers will use for an upcoming lesson plan.

All of this would not have been possible without the support of La Jolla High School Principal Dana Shelburne, school Secretary Kandi Mahaffey, AP Environmental Science teachers and project advisers Howard Tenenbaum and Holly Eaton, groundskeeper Jim Testa, and the AP Environmental Science students Elyssa recruited. These classmates tirelessly supported the project working in the gardens over four weekends, clocking in 330 hours to bring Elyssa’s vision to life.

Elyssa received donations, support and advice from Paul Backus, owner of Green Gardens Nursery; Valerie Philips, owner of Las Pilitas Nursery; Michael Rossbacher, RGR Development and Construction; and Bird Rock neighbor Charlie Wolfinger, who provided resources, knowledge and guidance on indigenous plants.