John Muir Charter School’s urban farm has gotten so big it has a name of its own! Muir Ranch is a place for budding gardeners, artists, and entrepreneurs to grow just as much as the plants they oversee.
Students, under the direction of Executive Director “Mud” Baron, care for the farm, run a CSA, and create flower arrangements for events, among other endeavors. Each aspect of the farm offers internship opportunities for high school students.
Twice a week, students at Muir Ranch pack up half and full shares of fresh produce for their 90 CSA customers. About 60% of the fruit, veggies, and herbs come from the school garden, while the other 40% are purchased at the market. A program like this is a huge undertaking, but students make it happen under the leadership of Customer Service and Sales Manager Alondra, a high school senior whose position is a paid internship. CSA profits fund internships like Alondra’s year round.
John Muir’s students want to share the benefits of a garden with others, not only through its harvest, but also through seedlings. Once a month, kids invite community members and other visitors to stop by the farm and take home seeds and plugs. These events, called “plug mobs,” are part of the school’s mission as a nursery non-profit to spread the culture of urban gardening.
Not only does Muir Ranch grow fruits and veggies, it also has a beautiful selection of specialty flowers! These flowers, and the stunning arrangements students create from them, are in high demand in the Pasadena area. Students sell bouquets at local farmers markets and have been hired for weddings and other special events. CSA members are treated to flower arrangements throughout the year as well.
Students, faculty, and the community come together to celebrate the success of a harvest at longtable meals prepared by professional chefs. These tasty festivities remind the garden’s supporters why they work so hard all year round! Opportunities for John Muir students, such as internships, are partially supported through the sale of tickets for farm-to-table meals.