It's a new year, and Julie Hubbard and company are digging right in. Literally.

The Liberty High teacher and some 80 students have been busy planning a native plant garden for the East County Historical Society in Knightsen.

The project began in October, and now the environmental science teacher and students put their plan in action on Jan. 20 -- Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

The "day of service" event included installing a drip irrigation system, a brick pathway and plantings.

"I'm hoping the students will learn about the basics of horticulture, the importance of using California native plants in gardening, the use of drip irrigation and the importance of choosing plants that don't need a lot of water," Hubbard said.

The students represent Hubbard's three Advanced Placement environmental classes.

All were involved in the study of the garden's soil and its chemistry. "Students then chose an appropriate fertilizer amendment for this soil."

Beyond helping spruce up the society's landscape, Hubbard hopes the "students will learn the value of community service and learn new gardening and construction skills."

For more information, call 925-634-3521.

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