School Gardens

Our first garden project, The Carver Garden, run by Carver Middle School students, helps feed Carver students at every cafeteria meal. Your participation made the Carver Garden possible.

We have an exciting new project, a large Aquaponic garden at Santee Education Complex. Santee serves a population of about 2,100 high school students; about 73% qualify for free or reduced fee lunches.


Aquaponics is an integrated aquaculture (growing fish) and hydroponic (growing soil-less plants) system that mutually benefits both environments. Aquaponics uses no chemicals, requires one tenth or 10% of the water needed for field plant production and only a fraction of the water that is used for fish culture.

The waste from fish tanks is treated with natural bacteria that converts the waste, largely ammonia, first to nitrite and then to nitrate. the fish waste absorbed by plants is pumped to a bio-filter system as a nutrient solution for growing plants (Grow Beds). The only external input to the system is food for the fish. Both systems complement each other as a single unit, a complete eco-system.


At first, the garden will grow tilapia and/or catfish, leafy greens and herbs. As the garden matures, tomatoes, peppers and other fruiting plants can take some of the space. Tree People have generously agreed to furnish 6 fruit trees, which we plan to grow in re-purposed, used wine barrels. We will be putting in benches as well as an outdoor educational area. All of this will convert bare concrete into a student-friendly food production and rest area.


It’s very eco-friendly. The aquaculture garden will be a closed mini-ecosystem, using about 90% less water than growing conventionally.


LALA will create a symposium for permaculture and aquaponic experts to come together with the teachers of Santee. Together we will create an imaginative hands on curriculum to integrate the Aquapnic Eco-System into their learning experience. Every grade level will participate. the Environmental Science department has agreed to maintain the overall eco-system. The Culinary department will maintain the plants. All departments are excited to discover how their students can participate. They will learn where their food comes from along with responsibility for the planet. AND along with the garden comes the opportunity to learn business as the students run their very own Farmer’s Market selling the produce that they grow to a neighborhood with no grocery stores.


There are three ways YOU can Participate.

  • Financial – every dollar donated to the garden projects goes directly to the project. No salaries are paid with your donation dollars. We are a 501c3 public benefit corporation. Your donation is Tax Deductible. 

  • Materials – a list of materials needed for the garden can be found on this web page. If you have any of these items or wish to acquire them for us, we love and appreciate donations of materials
  • Time – we need volunteers to help build the garden and work on it from time to time as the seasons and crops change. You can volunteer individually or gather your friends, family, coworkers, and community members for a fun day in the dirt.

Tell other community members who may want to participate by donating or helping us build this efficient, modern system to help feed Santee students.


What parts will we have to buy? Check our list below. We happily accept donations of individual parts.

Click here for a list of helpful parts that can be donated.

Who is supporting us already?

Burners Without Borders has awarded us $500 to use for materials. Tree People will contribute 6 fruit trees. Armstrong Garden Centers will be furnishing most of the plants.

If you would like to coordinate a fund raiser, please contact Thanks to everyone who supports the projects by attending these fun events.

We are applying for several small grants. If you company has a grant program please let us know so we can apply.

We still need the support of individuals. Small contributions add up. Donations are tax-deductible, and you can donate here.

Stay tuned for announcements about progress on fund-raising and building party announcements.

Santee v7




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