Greenacre Homes & School has been awarded a $10,000 grant that will be used to create a 6,000-square-foot teaching and therapeutic garden on the school’s Sebastopol campus. The school’s special education teacher Jesper Nordqvist also was recognized for his work with developmentally delayed and emotionally disturbed students.

The awards came from the philanthropic arm of the San Francisco Bay Area Super Bowl 50 Host Committee.

The new garden will be used to teach applied horticulture, to grow produce for the school and residential facilities, and to provide a tranquil area for therapists to work one-on-one with students.

Nordqvist’s other student run programs include a bike repair shop, a full-service café and the crafting of ceramic and wooden percussion instruments for retail sale.

Rich Aguirre, whose parents founded Greenacre Homes & School in 1975, says Nordqvist has a special gift for working with the students, finding out what energizes them and then creating programs to meet their needs.

“It’s all about teaching them real-life skills that meet their interests, with the goal of helping them become successful in the workplace,” he said.

Aguirre recalls one long-time resident and garden program student who, thanks to support from the local Kiwanis Club and Exchange Bank, was able to spend a month last year living and working on an organic farm in Sweden. Now that he’s back, the young man is holding down two jobs, including one in landscaping.

“The 50 Fund grant is not only providing us the necessary funds to build an incredible teaching garden,” said Aguirre, “it is allowing us to create a tranquil and peaceful setting to be enjoyed by our students, families, staff and guests.”

For more information about Greenacre Homes & School, visit greenacrehomes.org.