Altimira horticulture teacher 'Mr. Van' retires"

Sonoma Index-Tribune July 1, 2019


"It is the only place I've ever taught," said Adrian "Dutch" Van Herwynen, upon his retirement from Altimira Middle School earlier this month.

Over the past 27 years, “Mr. Van” as he is known, estimates he has taught 2,500 students. He began asa science teacher. Years later, perhaps prompted by Michelle Obama’s interest in nutrition and school gardening programs, Altimira received a grant to start a horticulture program.

With a Cal Ply degree in horticulture, Van Herwynen jumped at the chance. He expanded the campus garden to include raised beds for vegetables and flowers, planted fruit trees, and constructed a greenhouse for seedlings. A .33-acreparcel dubbed the Production Farm was added. During peak growing season, his garden parcel turns into a cornucopia of organic produce—corn, pumpkins, tomatoes, squash, melons and eggplant. Using recycled materials, Van Herwynen and his students built a chicken coop for 20-plus chickens. And there’s a CSA program where the students sell fruit, vegetables, succulents, cut flowers and eggs. READ MORE