Garden, Sustainability & Permaculture

At Alta Vista School, one of our core values is Sustainability. We believe in the importance of fostering an environmental ethic in our students, an ethic that respects the earth and is conscious of our impact on the earth’s natural resources.

Our community practices "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" every day - from the creative transformation of discarded items into artwork and tinker tools, to the composting of our food waste. Our pet worms even do their part by turning our lunch scraps into a rich, balanced and organic fertilizer that we put back into our garden. We also partnered with Recology to create a system for waste that is conscious of separating our trash from our recycling from our compost.

Our sustainable organic garden - transformed from an old, abandoned basketball court - is well on its way to becoming a hub for sustainability and a vital source of nourishment for our community in a variety of ways.

This garden is an outdoor learning laboratory rich with opportunities for engaging education and empowerment. Students direct composting efforts through vermicomposting, and our outdoor classroom captures precious rainfall and solar energy, while nurturing a unique habitat for wildlife, pollinators and compost critters in an urban environment. We are growing food for our community and encouraging healthy eating through a hands-on approach to wellness and nutrition. Our school leads by example, inspiring a generation of students to see the world through an ecological lens.




Every week, each grade level has one academic block of garden. The curriculum is interdisciplinary and woven with experiential content. Time spent in the garden is FUN! The students get their hands dirty as they help build, maintain and develop our garden. We learn about sustainable agriculture and urban wildlife ecology. AVS students steward the garden from seed to seedling, from plant to harvest. We learn about nutrition and practice cooking the plants we have grown from seed. We discuss local food systems and experience the joys of ‘seed to celebration.’

As a part of our urban garden curriculum, we teach the principles and ethics of permaculture in a kid-friendly, age appropriate way. Permaculture is “a design system inspired by nature which is based on ethics and design principles." One of the best places to practice permaculture is in the garden!

The AVS urban garden is a dynamic landscape that includes:
  • Fruit Trees - We are a part of Friends of the Urban Forests’ Urban Orchard Program
  • Herb Spiral
  • Vermicomposting - composting with worms
  • Plant Guilds
  • Vertical Gardens - ex. potato tower
  • Vegetables - diverse, seasonal and abundant
  • Compost Pile
  • Outdoor Classroom
  • Pollinator Gardens

San Francisco Sustainability Resources :

San Francisco Department of the Environment -
Garden for the Environment -
Graze the Roof -
Alemany Farm -
Education Outside -
Recology -
Branch SF -