This spring, with the help of our local Boy Scout Troop, we were able to build 21 four x eight foot raised garden beds, fill with organic soil, and then plant with seedlings we had grown throughout the spring in our library. We are currently growing several varieties of tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, peppers, peas, asparagus, strawberries, melons and pumpkins, as well as culinary herbs and a wide variety of pollinator attracting flowers.
What challenges did or does your project face?
We were starting from the 'ground up.' In September, our courtyard was bare and depressing. Today, it is blooming and bursting with life! Kids have been trying all kinds of new things and finding out they really love vegetables, getting soil on their hands, and using their bodies in ways they don't normally. They are making real world connections with what they are learning in the classroom, and connecting with nature and their food source.
One of our challenges is always going to be getting more community involvement to help manage and maintain the gardens. Because of the demographics of our student body, parents are very busy and overloaded with their own work and commitments.
How are you working to overcome them?
We have been working so hard to build a bridge to our garden program, so that everyone feels included. We held a big Earth Day event in April and invited the entire school and greater community to come and work. Little by little, people are seeing what we are trying to do, and they want to become a part of it.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
Just keep digging! It may feel overwhelming, but just build one bed at a time and be patient. Every time the students come out, we are working on patience. We wait our turn to use the shovel, we wait our turn to fill our watering cans, we wait and wait and hope that our seeds will start to grow. Eventually they do, and the life that follows is always worth the wait!