West County’s “Plant to Plate” Internship Program: Sowing Seeds of Success for Local High School St

By Vickie Lewis

High school is a time when young adults begin to prepare themselves for what they will encounter in the outside world. But they are often so busy studying, participating in sports or other extracurricular activities, or completing endless applications for colleges, that they don’t get any “real world” experience until they are out on their own. One way that West Contra Costa County students can attain some of that important life experience while they are still in high school is through participation in the “Plant to Plate” Internship Program, a collaborative project of Anaviv Catering and Events and the nonprofit West County DIGS (Developing Instructional Gardens in Schools).

Since 2007, West County DIGS has supported school gardens by providing resources and partnering with teachers to promote environmental awareness in the West Contra Costa Unified School District. The Plant to Plate Internship Program, which is only in its fourth year, expands the focus on gardening to include many additional learning opportunities for its participants. Student interns not only learn about organic gardening from planting seeds through the harvest but are also taught essential culinary arts skills by some exceptional chefs. The program also includes instruction about important job and life skills that are transferrable to most professions, such as resume writing, mentorship, and networking, which are essential to advancing their employment opportunities.

The Plant to Plate program was initially a collaborative effort between Molly Wahl, an employee of West County DIGS, and Kelli Barram, a Master Gardener who has taught