The Orchard Commons Committee helped inaugurate a new intern program on January 24, 2020 that links the Los Altos History Museum with Foothill College’s Environmental Horticulture & Design program. On January 24, 2020, the first team of three interns from this collaboration received a Scholarship Award in recognition for excellence in design during their fall internship.
Viji Jagannathan, Sandra Morgans and Katie Grandy designed two projects to beautify the Civic Center and create a heritage learning landscape that connects two Los Altos landmarks, the Heritage Orchard and J. Gilbert Smith House. The projects include a Pop-Up Pollinator Garden, located outside the back door of the Los Altos Library, and a Heritage Landscape Design for the area between the Museum and Police Department, around the existing apricot trees and stately heritage oak.
“The projects will be an on-going relationship between the college and Museum,” said team leader Viji Jagannathan. “My hope is that there will be future interns who can work on the actual implementation of the designs that we submitted to the Orchard Commons Committee of the Los Altos History Museum.”
Sandra Morgans bicycled the orchard spaces for many years, and her kids grew up going to the library and Museum. “We designed the pollinator garden with predominately drought tolerant native plants,” she said. “This was an opportunity to apply my HORT education to a real-world project, and I learned a lot about how various groups work together.”
“I believe in the power of plants to improve the quality of life,” said Katie Grandy. She works with homeowners to design gardens that are beautiful, useful and water efficient for the local climate. “It’s our hope that the Foothill horticulture department and the History Museum will create outdoor spaces that teach why biodiverse and sustainable landscapes are beneficial and how to create them.”
Frank Niccoli, faculty member of Foothill’s Environmental Horticulture & Design program, serves on the Orchard Commons Committee, and is the intern’s faculty mentor. “He contributes expertise and insight on modern advances in horticulture, building on the ecological wisdom of diverse traditions,” said the Museum’s Executive Director, Dr. Elisabeth Ward.
On January 21, Nikki Hanson, from the Grassroots Ecology Nursery, guided volunteers in implementing the interns’ design of the Pop-Up Pollinator Garden using native plants raised at the nursery.
At the awards ceremony, the interns explained that their concept design for the educational landscape would highlight three themes to tie in with the outdoor agricultural exhibit at the museum: heritage gardens, heritage trees and water services.
“Our vision is to engage diverse community organizations in providing hands-on activities for families who share a passion for the balance of nature, gardening and growing food,” said Jane Packard, Chair of the Orchard Commons Committee. “Through experiential learning, we strengthen a sense of place and create the stories of the future.”
Contributed by Jane Packard, Orchard Commons Committee Chair