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What A School Does When It’s ‘Kind Of Running Out Of Water’

gaggle of sixth-grade students grab overripe eggplants from a compost pile in the green edible garden, a focal point of Thomas Starr King Middle School. They make their way up a hill, passing more classrooms to a tree at the edge of campus, surrounded by what looks like a mound of hay.

It’s 101 degrees outside the Los Feliz school, and the hay is dry to the touch. Teacher David Egeler tells the kids to poke a finger into a small opening in the mound, and tell him what they feel. There’s soil inside, and it’s wet. 

That’s because they’re at the campus’ newest garden, called the hugelkultur garden. To make it, Egeler and his colleagues piled wood, watered it, then covered the wood with a layer of soil and another of hay. The wood can hold water when it rains, and releases it slowly into the soil as necessary, Egeler said.