Welcome to the Little Cunha Farm!
The vision for a garden at Cunha started with a couple teachers in 2018. Working with the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability and the Resource Conservation District, Cunha was able to build three garden beds and a compost system.
Here is the history:
When the pandemic hit in March 2020 and the school closed, the garden was also rightfully closed down. The weeds grew tall, but the garden was not forgotten. In May 2021, a revitalization of the area began. For the next 12 months the small garden came to life with an AgScience elective class for 6th graders. Students were investigating local farmers and the role they play in producing sustainable foods, all the while combating climate change. Students were drawing relationships between human populations, food production, soil health, and how we can use the soil to sequester carbon from our atmosphere.
The space was small for what we envisioned for the program. Over the summer in 2022, the Cunha garden relocated to the south west corner of the school, adding approximately 10K square feet, and with the help of various grants, we were able to expand to include four more garden beds, a small greenhouse, and a chicken coop. We also acquired a commercial-sized hydroponic growing system. Most importantly, the 6th grade AgScience elective grew to include a 7th grade AgScience elective, so now more students are involved in the garden. In the 2023-2024 school year, a third class will be added – an 8th grade elective – that will allow for progression in student learning.
Our garden grew to become a small farm with the addition of our chickens. After a well-informed field trip to Half Moon Bay Feed and Fuel, students picked up their day-old chicks and raised them in the classroom, until there were of eight weeks and went outside to the little farm.
The vision for the Agricultural Science class and for the Little Cunha Farm is that it becomes a corner stone at Cunha middles school, where students and dive into deeper agricultural and sustainable work. Additional student time in the garden space will increase yield and growth capacity of food and composted materials. Students and teachers will establish a system where school-grown food can be given to those in our community, as well as sold in order to keep the program thriving.
This program offers students work-based experience, where they can develop a business plan for the produce and eggs. Utilizing the existing and planned on-site composting materials, 50 percent of food scraps from the school lunch waste will be recycled with the on-site closed-loop composting system. Finished compost can then be used in the garden to promote healthy soils and ecosystems, or given to those in the community.
What started with three gardens beds has now grown into a little farm!