Loleta Elementary gardening teacher and bus driver sows the seeds of change

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In Loleta, a surprising connection exists between driving the school bus, and feeding the children.

“The prior bus driver and garden coordinator had retired, and the opportunity was just ripe for the picking,” David Fogle, a professional farmer who is taking a season off to be the Loleta Elementary bus driver and gardener, said.

Fogle got started watching YouTube videos.

“I’m really big on climate activism and food sovereignty and so able to put my own hands you and actually see the results actually, instead of just typing off into the ether. I started my farm, Vogelheim Farm, and I’ve been involved in local farmers markets for about five years. I was raising meat and doing seasonal produce,” Fogle said.

When the opportunity to lend a green thumb to Loleta came up, he said yes.

“We provide community gardens space for families to come to, people who don’t have a good growing space. With the kids, the school we have a program which allows them to get some gardening time in,” Fogle said.

Time in the garden for kids is more than just an excuse to play outside.

“According to the USDA, the average age of farmers is 65 and getting older all the time. So this is the way to train up the next generation of gardeners and farmers and help out with a little bit of self-sufficiency and food resiliency,” Fogle said.

The kids in Fogle’s garden elective class range from 5th to 8th grade.

“They’re helping out with everything from starting our starts to planting the plants. We’ll work on irrigation together. We’re working on compost together, soil amendments, mulching; the the whole nine yards” Fogle said.

Farmer Fogle said the program doesn’t use any harmful pesticides at all, which was evident by all of the life in the greenhouse, including this cute frog we saw.

Fogle, who also drives the school bus, helped the school transition the way it treats food waste.

“So a lot of the food from the cafeteria was just going directly just into the trash bins and being shipped off to landfills and whatnot,” Fogle said.

Now the food scraps are composted, and used as future fertile soil.

The greenhouse was filled with lush plants, even on a chilly and windy day: yerba buena, cucumbers, gooseberries, tomatoes, onions, strawberries and more are growing in the greenhouse.  

“We donate a lot of it to people. the kids are able to take whatever they like home from the garden,” Fogle said.