Grade 9 Habitat Restoration with Arden Wood

Our freshmen at San Francisco Waldorf High School have been doing wonderful work in their community and for our neighbors.  Last year SFWHS expanded a long-standing partnership with our backyard neighbor, Arden Wood.  The valley between our building and theirs is the largest privately owned open space in San Francisco.  It holds natural springs, a small watercourse, many eucalyptus, a few redwoods, lots of undergrowth, with many birds and other animals.  But over the years this beautiful space has fallen into disuse.

Last year, as part of our partnership, our freshmen went to the Arden Wood property and made an incredible contribution during Project Week.  They cleared a hundred fifty meters of overgrown trails (filled with saplings and vines), removed poison oak, carted mud out of a small pond, and uncovered steps and stonework that haven't seen sunlight in decades.  Some of he students and staff returned after our first lunch and said, spontaneously, "Wow!  We did this?!"  They uncovered stonework around a spring and surprised us all when they found a series of tiny stone pools built into the hillside.  People who have worked at Arden Wood for years said they didn't even know some of what we found was there!  Later, Arden Wood invited the freshmen over to enjoy a barbecue, music, and the company of Arden Wood staff and residents.

This year our new freshman class went to Arden Wood during their orientation week to continue the work started by their predecessors.  They swept clean what had been cleared last year, cleared another 50 meters of steps, removed old pipes, and weeded more around the spring and stonework.  They cleared tons of mud from the pond and watercourse, peeled back more ivy, and got a large piece of a log out of the stream.  Again, they surprised themselves and us by the work they did and the wonderful contribution they made to that wonderful space.   

It truly is amazing what can be accomplished with a little vision, a dash of coordination, sufficient guidance, and the collective energy of a class of students.

- Ben Pittenger, HS Earth Sciences