Local Lowdown: Going Green at Santa Barbara High

Posted on Sep 19 by SEASONS Magazine

Santa Barbara High School Green Lab, photo by Medeighnia Westwick.

Santa Barbara High School Green Lab, photo by Medeighnia Westwick.

By Nancy A. Shobe

While many high school students still slumber, a group of teens gathers at Santa Barbara High School’s Green Lab to till the soil, plant vegetables, check on aquaponic beds or manage beehives.

Jose Caballero, an environmental science teacher at Santa Barbara High, leads the environmental science AP and small-scale food production courses that draw a wide variety of students to the lab.

“I really like that the students have a chance to expand their awareness,” says Caballero, when asked what he likes about working with students on the Santa Barbara High “farm.”  “A lot of my students don’t understand the relationship between flower and fruit…or know the order of the seasons. The students become a lot more aware of life cycles.”

Green Lab Aquaponics, Courtesy Photo.

The students are also responsible for feeding the chickens and doing maintenance during school holidays and the summer.

Neatly tilled rows with hand-lettered signs indicate the abundance of crops that grow at the lab—everything from kale to cabbage and peaches to tomatoes.

Stacy Pulice, visionary and major donor to the project with her husband, Ron, speaks passionately about Caballero’s teachings and the Green Lab. In fact, she and Ron were so enthralled with Jose and the lab’s potential, they donated $500,000 to make the project a reality.

“Jose has a wonderful way of integrating the students and having them take responsibility for the work,” says Pulice, “and the percentage of green on campus directly correlates to test scores.”

Santa Barbara High School Green Lab, photo by Medeighnia Westwick.

Santa Barbara High School Green Lab, photo by Medeighnia Westwick.

Going green means higher test scores and delicious foods? Santa Barbara High’s Green Lab is truly plum.

For more information, visit sbgreenlab.com.

Originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Santa Barbara Seasons Magazine.

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