Potting plants for the planet: Students run booth at Arts & Wine Festival

Zoe Morgan/Town Crier
Student environmental advocates Mallory Weisfeld, left, and Anika Sikka plant basil seeds at their booth at the Arts & Wine Festival.

The annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival brings hundreds of artists, food vendors and musicians from throughout the region to downtown Los Altos. This year, however, a group of local middle school students managed to get their own booth at the July 13-14 event.

Bullis Charter School’s #Decarbonize – Decolonize club, which aims to bring awareness to the fight against climate change, manned a booth in the Kidzone this year, where club members showed kids how to plant basil and sunflower seeds.

Nyla Hayhoe, an incoming seventh-grader at the charter school, came up with the idea for the “Pot a Plant for the Planet” activity, with the goal of teaching younger children how small actions can add up to help the planet.

“It was basically just to show the kids that by potting a plant you can not only be sustainable yourself, but … (with) one small pot you can make the world so much better,” Nyla said.

The club has organized a number of activities to help raise awareness about climate change and steps that can be taken to mitigate its impact. In March, students organized a walkout at Bullis Charter School, part of an international string of climate protests. Los Altos High School students also held a walkout.

Club member Anika Sikka attended the 2018 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poland last December as a student representative. Anika graduated from the charter school in the spring and will enter ninth grade at Los Altos High School this fall.

Entering the festival

The idea to enter the festival originally came from one of the club’s members, but at first the students weren’t sure if it was possible.

“My friend, one of the girls in the club, came up to me and said we should do a booth at the Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival,” incoming eighth-grader Mallory Weisfeld said. “It was kind of this fantasy, far-fetched thing.”

The students realized that the typical booth fee, plus the 10% commission on all sales, was more than they could afford. However, the Los Altos Village Association, which runs the festival, agreed to waive the commission and lower the booth fee to $100. The group also gave the students chairs, tables and a tent for free.

The club organized a lemonade stand and raffle to raise funds to cover the booth fee.

Ultimately, the festival booth turned out to be a success. The students raised more than $300 from the plants, as well as approximately $75 more selling student artwork. The funds will go to future club projects, such as beach clean-ups.

“I think it went really well,” Mallory said. “I’m really surprised at how much we made and how much people enjoyed doing the activity.”

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