We work with the Community Food Bank, Watershed Management Group, University of Arizona’s School and Community Garden Network, TUSD Food Services, and TUSD’s Community Transition Programs to maintain our ecology projects.
We have seven distinct gardens on our campus.
At Drachman’s main entrance you are welcomed by a large mesquite tree, which shades our Hummingbird Pollinator Garden. This garden provides food and nesting material for several different species of native hummingbirds and a place for students to observe hummingbird behavior.
We have two sections of Butterfly Gardens. The first section is an in-ground garden with native milkweeds, passion flower, and butterfly mist plants. The second garden is in stock tanks with an olla irrigation system and has native milkweeds and other desert plants that provide food and shelter for monarch butterflies. This garden is a registered Monarch Butterfly Waystation, and students collect data on the monarchs’ seasonal migration.
Our third garden is on the roof of our chicken coop. Students have planted and maintain a Succulent Garden on top of different sections of our chicken coop roof. This Green Roof allows students to study the varying temperatures of the coop and the insulation that the succulents and soil provide.
Our Food Production Garden is where we plant, maintain and harvest seasonal crops. Our harvests are used in classroom tastings. These tastings are supported by our partnership with TUSD’s Food Services and Farm to School program. Students learn how to safely harvest, clean, and prepare simple dishes with the freshly picked produce.
Drachman’s Xeriscape Garden is filled with plants that are native to the Sonoran desert including saguaro cactus, blue palo verde and velvet mesquite trees. This garden provides nesting area for native birds and native bees and a place for students to study plants and animals native to the Sonoran Desert.
Drachman has a Meditation Garden with rock features, sand and minimal planting. It is a peaceful place where students and teachers can sit and reflect.
Drachman’s Rainwater Harvesting Garden is an expansive garden on the east side of the school. It collects rainwater from classroom roofs and channels it into basins where students have planted native species of trees and understory plants. This garden was featured in an article in The New York Times and has been the subject of presentations at national conferences related to teaching about climate change and ecology.
Drachman has a Desert Tortoise Habitat where students learn about the care and maintenance of the desert plants that the tortoise eats. Students are able observe the behavior of our rescued desert tortoise.
Our chicken coop has a rotating cast of characters, usually numbering around nine hens. We feed them organic grain and laying pellets. Students collect, wash and sell the eggs to teachers and staff.
We add to our compost every day, and students from TUSD’s Community Transition Program oversee how food waste is sorted in the cafeteria. After it is sorted, it is mixed into composting bins. Drachman students turn the compost and measure the temperature as the cafeteria waste is transformed into healthy soil we can use in our butterfly and pollinator gardens.
We have a large 2,600-gallon cistern which collects stormwater runoff, decreasing our need for municipal water. Our cistern supplements the water needed for our pollinator gardens, lemon tree, and pomegranate tree.
Build & Grow is an ecology-themed elective for Middle School. The students help maintain all of the currently existing ecology programs as well as design and build new ones. They also work collaboratively with elementary classrooms on ecology projects. Past projects completed by Build & Grow students include the large east-side Rainwater Harvesting Garden, the shaded Outdoor Classroom, and a large mural facing 22nd Street.
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