Culinary Arts Teacher Annette Fields and Students Built an Organic Garden on the Campus of Alhambra High School

Posted by Communications on 4/12/2018

Culinary Arts teacher Annette Fields has taught environmental science and culinary arts for many years and most recently she and 22 students built an organic garden on the campus of Alhambra High School. It is the first and only certified organic garden in the District.


The students were involved in every aspect of building the garden from putting the boxes together, moving several tons of soil to fill the boxes, and filling in the surroundings with gravel to create an attractive environment.


In the fall they grew sweet corn, pumpkins, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers. Currently they have planted sun flowers which are beginning to sprout, watermelon, onions, snap peas, potatoes, and zucchini. All items grown in the garden are organic and used in the Culinary Classroom and Culinary Club.


“I have a passion for the environment, and I also want my students to learn about sustainability. With the Alhambra Organic Garden there are many opportunities to teach them about our environment, biology, botany, and emerging markets but best of all we get to make yummy and healthy snacks when we are done,” Fields said.  “Our goal is to beautify the community in which we work and live and make Phoenix a more sustainable city.   My students also learn the difference between healthy food choices and the “Food Desert” that surrounds us.”


To become certified Fields had to do some research regarding prior land use.  She contacted Maricopa County GIS Mapping and viewed the aerial photography of the school’s location dating back to 1930. Fortunately, prior to the school’s construction the land was open agricultural land eliminating any concern of potential toxins in the soil. Next, she contacted the Arizona Department of Health Services for a site visit to obtain approval for the proposed location and then to the Arizona Department of Health Services web site to find out what else might be needed. They had to submit a Food Safety Plan and obtain Food handlers certification for all the students. 


“It took a great deal of hard work and almost a year to acquire certification with the Arizona Department of Health Services, but with a group of amazing Culinary & Organic Garden Club members we did it.”