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Student’s creativity grows into award-winning garden

By: Amanda Calzada, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Tevin Wright’s creativity sprouted into a garden, literally. “Nothing really inspired me. I just thought it’d be cool to make an animal themed garden,” said Wright, a Rocklin Academy third-grader whose garden design placed second in the Design Your “Dream” School Garden Competition of the Sacramento and Davis areas. His design was centered around the animal theme and included a slide for kids and edible plants for the “animals” like Kangaroo Paw, cherry blossom trees, chocolate mint, and monster plants. The plants that the animals did not eat, he figured, the students could eat. The competition was open to kids in all schools grades kindergarten through sixth. Wright, because he was one of the top four finalists, received a $100 gift card for his classroom. Lisa Ely and Michael Glassman are authors of “Kinder Gardens: Growing Imagination for Children.” The second book in the series, “Kinder Gardens: Games & Adventures,” made its debut at the Northern California Homes & Landscape Expo on Jan. 28. The book was a resource of creative gardening ideas for children and their families. In the book, Karden, the puppet, advocates healthy eating and nutrition through outdoor gardening. Ely and Glassman selected the top four designs of the competition, which were featured on Fox 40. Ely described Wright’s design with the slide, benches, and sandbox as “awesome.” Judging criteria included creativity, educational use, garden maintenance, and student impact. The four finalists’ designs were integrated into one giant garden at Cal Expo in February 2011. As a mom, Kimberly Wright said she was delighted to see her son’s idea transplant from his mind to actual earth. She says her son had entered the competition for the creative experience, rather than targeting the idea of winning. Karden Gardens wants kids to be excited about gardening, something that is quickly becoming a lost art. Their concept is simple, they say: If you can grow it, you can eat it. In his backyard, Wright enjoys planting basil, thyme, and oregano with his family. He says he likes gardening because it allows him to see the different stages of plant growth. “Every flower starts as a seed,” he said with a smile.