STOCKTON — Friday was Redwood School’s biannual plant sale, an important date to all involved as it’s an opportunity to help both the students and the school’s greenhouse flourish.
The San Joaquin County Office of Education’s Redwood School, at 3555 Wilmarth Road in Stockton, is a specialized center serving special-needs students 6-22 years of age. The school’s focus is on having a functional curriculum that teaches independent living and vocational education.
In 2011, Joseph Cirimele was awarded a grant through his employer, Xerox, to revitalize the decrepit greenhouse, which had been at the school for about 30 years, said Mary Bennett, a special-education teacher at Redwood. Once the greenhouse was refurbished, he helped start the first sale.
The plant sale is one of the key fundraisers to keep the greenhouse program in existence, Bennett said. And the greenhouse allows students to learn new skills and it’s good for sensory integration.
By 1 p.m. Friday, the school had raised close to $800 for the greenhouse. The big sellers were succulents, such as jades and echeverias.
Daisy Plovnick, a sustainer member of the Junior League of San Joaquin County, got involved in the plant sale through the league two years ago. She grew about 90 percent of the plants up for sale Friday.
“My whole backyard is full of succulents,” she said, adding that participating in the program is a personal joy.
The students needed help with the greenhouse because it was more than they could handle, said Plovnick, who has a 26-year-old special-needs son. The league got involved two years ago and really revamped and cleaned the greenhouse, and now it’s helping with the plant sale.
The group lends a hand by supplying some of the plants, dirt and care for the plants, while the students help as much as they can, she explained. Spending time in the greenhouse is therapy for the students. It is one thing they’re allowed to do on campus and they really seem to enjoy it.
Special-education teacher Jennifer Barry said 75 percent of the about 90 students at Redwood use the greenhouse.
It’s a great asset because it allows the students to do hands-on training, and learn about planting and maintaining a garden, which they can not only use at a job but as a hobby at home with their families, Barry said.
And the plant sale, she said, lets them switch roles and be the helpers instead of having people help them. They’re so excited when visitors stop by, Barry said. They greet customers, and they want to help carry the plants and chat with potential buyers.
Said Barry: “It’s a really good sense of pride for our students.”
The next plant sale will be held in late October.
For more information about Redwood School, visit sjcoe.org/SpEdSites.
Contact reporter Almendra Carpizo at (209) 546-8264 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @AlmendraCarpizo.