TUCSON, Ariz. -- When I first walked past the doors of Manzo Elementary, I was greeted by a tan woman wearing blue pom pom earrings. Blue Baldwin, the Ecology Program Coordinator, welcomed me into the school. She ushered me to a courtyard which housed a little stage and a chicken cage. There were no chickens, I was immediately puzzled. She could see my confusion and started walking me around the first courtyard to another open area on the opposite side of the school. A secret garden was waiting for us.
A small organic garden supported rows of leafy vegetables. Children came from a classroom nearby and began to water the plants, a routine chore for them. Across from the garden was a large chicken coop and greenhouse. Sprinkled in between these structures were small trails and vegetation. The classrooms surrounded a miniature environment which felt foreign in a Tucson neighborhood. This school is moving the planet forward in a way I had never seen before and I knew I needed to share it. Their sustainability practices are fostering a love of nature with young children and passes on an appreciation for the environment to younger generations.