White moved to Salem from Las Vegas about five years ago. After securing a job at Waldo Middle School, she applied for a grant through the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation to offer a hands-on gardening class to her sixth-grade students. Since then they have created a 1500-square-foot community garden on the WMS campus.

The garden provides an abundance of produce each year including corn, squash, tomatoes, green beans, peas, kale, blueberries, and strawberries. The students in White’s gardening class have the opportunity to experience organic gardening from preparation to harvest, and to reap the rewards by taking home the fruits (and vegetables) of their hard work. When school is out, White takes the garden’s crops to food banks and shelters in the area.

White offers her students a chance to experience something outside the classroom that can have a lasting influence on their awareness of the environment and how food is grown. Her students know that she drinks out of a glass to prevent more plastic from going into landfills, she shops at LifeSource Natural Foods, and she tries to instill an appreciation for farmers who work to feed the community. When asked if she thinks her students leave her classes with a new approach and attitude toward the environment, White says, “I know they do.”

White also has an organic garden at home, complete with a “no pesticides” sign, and has started collecting water off of her roof to use in her garden. She is also putting in a solar hot water system and plans to install a photovoltaic system sometime this summer.

White is also a Master Recycler, has taught vermin composting through Marion County’s Master Recycler program, and is involved with rBGH-Free Salem.

If you are interested in volunteering to work in the Community Garden at Waldo Middle School or in making a donation, contact Sally White at white_sally@salkeiz.k12.or.us or  (503) 399-3216.

Do you know someone who deserves to be dubbed a Planet Protector? E-mail your nominations to editors@salemmonthly.com.