The Business of Berries: Second Graders Learn from Industry Leader

Recently, Mount Madonna School (MMS) second grade students sampled “sweet lesson” in food production, when MMS parent, Nishan Moutafian, who works for locally-based berry producer, Driscoll’s, came and taught students about the process of berries and their growth. The presentation was part of second grade’s ongoing curriculum unit on food cycles and where food comes from, along with professional food growing processes.

Moutafian shared a lesson on how strawberries grow and the purpose of beneficial insects for keeping strawberry plants safe, along with other techniques for bug eradication including a special vacuum. Students were very interested and excited to able to see these bugs firsthand!

Second grade teacher Prema Gammons said that this particular concept helped to restate and solidify student’s understanding following previous class work on plant pollination.

“First the strawberries are just roots and a couple of leaves,” shared one student in their journal. “And then sometimes bugs come and try to attack it, but there are also [good] predator bugs.”

The “tastiest” part of the presentation came next, with students berry tasting several blueberry and blackberry varieties. Students marked the varieties with letters, and then voted on their preferences.

“I love berries!” said student Finny Aguirre, enjoying the berries’ sweet juiciness.

“Students learned from Nishan that tastings like this are exactly how professional growers choose specific berry varieties as well,” said Gammons. “We are so grateful to parents who give generously of their time and experience. Having Nishan share his expertise with students brought to life the themes we work with throughout the year, including plant pollination through insects and how food arrives at our table.”


Contact: Leigh Ann Clifton, director of marketing & communications,

Nestled among the redwoods on 375 acres, Mount Madonna School (MMS) is a diverse learning community dedicated to creative, intellectual, and ethical growth. MMS supports its students in becoming caring, self-aware, discerning and articulate individuals; and believes a fulfilling life includes personal accomplishments, meaningful relationships and service to society. The CAIS and WASC accredited program emphasizes academic excellence, creative self-expression and positive character development. Located on Summit Road between Gilroy and Watsonville. Founded in 1979.