UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA

Mornings at Martial Cottle Park

Mornings at Martial Cottle Park provides three different free field trips to schools, homeschoolers, and other groups throughout Santa Clara County. The target age group is kindergarten through 3rd grade.

UC Master Gardeners of Santa Clara County have created an engaging set of nutrition and science lessons for students to experience in the garden.

  • We focus on garden-based curricula that support California life science standards and nutrition program objectives.
  • Hands-on activities help make the learning fun and meaningful.
  • Children, teachers, and adult chaperones can all participate in the activities and enjoy learning in a garden setting.

 

Field trips offered

We offer three different free field trips, described in detail below. 

Field Trip 1: Lessons in the Garden (~2 to 2.5 hours)

Field Trip 2: Vermicomposting for Kids (~2 to 2.5 hours; maximum 35 students)

Field Trip 3: Native Bees in Our Backyard (~2 to 2.5 hours)

Field trips are held once a week in spring and fall, in the morning.

Please note that the maximum number of students for Vermicomposting for Kids is 35.

 

How to schedule

To request a field trip, please complete this form. 

Field Trip 1: Lessons in the Garden

This field trip introduces the students to the concepts of

  • plant life cycle
  • nutrition including parts of the plant we eat and eating the colors of the rainbow
  • beneficials and pests

First we introduce the students to the garden, then they rotate through three interactive stations. We conclude by reviewing the key concepts and lesson objectives in a question and response format. Time required: approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.

Plant Life Cycle Station

Using pumpkins or sunflowers, students learn about the plant life cycle from seed back to seed. In the spring, students have the opportunity to plant a sunflower in our garden as well as one to take home. In the fall, students visit our Three Sisters Garden and get to choose a pumpkin, squash, or gourd to take home.

Nutrition Station

Students explore, harvest, and use their senses to learn about vegetables and herbs, including the benefits of eating five different colors of vegetables. They plant seeds that represent different colors and different edible parts of plants.

Beneficials and Pests Station

Students learn about beneficial garden critters and how to define garden pests. To reinforce the lesson, they sort photos of garden critters into beneficial and pest categories. We also explain what integrated pest management means and show them seven ways to get rid of pests without using chemicals. The students go on a scavenger hunt looking for the beneficials and pests that they learned about

Field Trip 2: Vermicomposting for Kids

This field trip introduces the students to the concepts of

  • vermicomposting: what is it? why do it?
  • the anatomy of a red wiggler
  • the benefits of vermicomposting
  • how to build, maintain, and harvest a small vermicomposting bin
  • how to use vermicompost

Students learn that vermicomposting is the process by which worms are used to convert organic materials into compost. We show them red wiggler worms, various types of worm bins, and explain what ingredients go into the bins. Then the students make a mini vermicompost bin. Time required: approximately 2 to 2.5 hours. Please note: 35 students maximum.

Field Trip 3: Native Bees in Our Backyard

This field trip introduces students to the concepts of

  • natives bees in our area
  • bee anatomy
  • pollination by native bees

First we introduce students to the garden, then they rotate through three interactive stations described below. We conclude by reviewing the key concepts and lesson objectives in a question and response format. Time required: approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.

Different Types of Native Bees Station

Students learn about three types of native bees (Ultra-Green Sweat Bee, Valley Carpenter Bee, and Yellow-faced Bumblebee), what is unique about each type, and how they benefit our gardens. They will observe native bees and other insects in the gardens.

Native Bee Anatomy Station

Students learn about the anatomy of the three native bees and their anatomical differences. They make a playdough bee based on one of the three native bees to take home.

Native Bees and Pollination Station

Students learn what pollination means, what type of flowers different native bees like to visit, and how native bees contribute to the pollination of plants. They make a seed ball using clay and native wildflower seeds to take home to plant.

About Us

The field trips for kindergarten through 3rd grade are conducted at the UC Master Gardeners Demonstration Garden and Community Education Center. Our four-acre parcel is within Santa Clara County's 287-acre Martial Cottle Park which showcases the area's farming past and celebrates the agricultural heritage of Santa Clara Valley. We demonstrate many aspects of gardening in this parcel, from native plants to vegetables to fruit trees and more. We are located at Martial Cottle Park, 5283 Snell Ave, San Jose, CA 95136.

“Lessons in the Garden” is a garden-based curricula that support California life science standards and nutrition program objectives. A pilot field trip program was conducted in fall 2017. We received the Santa Clara County Open Space Authority (OSA) Measure Q grant which provided transportation funds for six Title 1 and/or schools in low-income communities from 2017-2019.

This program won a 2020 UCCE statewide competition Search for Excellence Award that recognizes outstanding UC Master Gardener projects that supports the mission of the UC Master Gardener Program.

The field trip program has been expanded to include two other trips: “Vermicomposting for Kids” and “Native Bees in Our Backyard.”

During the past year, fall 2023 through spring 2024, we held 17 trips, serving 504 students and 160 parent/chaperones. These trips included several scout troops as well as students from a San Jose State class.

 

Operated in partnership with the Santa Clara County Parks & Recreation Department.

 

Webmaster Email: webmaster-mgsantaclara@ucanr.edu