With the SeedMoney campaign donations the school and community partners built a new 2500 square foot school and community permaculture garden on school grounds. Students from the Urban Farm and Culinary Arts programs helped design and build the garden as part of their curriculum. This success inspired the programs to begin planning all year programming in food systems that will include a K-12 summer camp program along with more growing during the colder months.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Securing appropriate permissions with the school district and city was an initial challenge, so garden installation was delayed by a few months. We were able to get necessary approvals to install the garden this year and also plant fruit trees next year. We need to broaden our community outreach so that we have enough help with garden installation projects, as much of the work is volunteer-based. By the end of our installation we were fortunate to have many volunteers help us finish the work for the season. We also had heavy rainfall events postpone our install dates, followed by unusually hot days in September. Funding is always a challenge, but we were able to accomplish a lot with the amount we raised - we are thankful for the SeedMoney donations and the support of the neighborhood.
How are you working to overcome them?
We are planning to connect further with local leaders in food systems, seeking to find partners in organizations and institutions to sponsor the garden. Our neighborhood organization is reaching out to local companies who volunteered during the first garden installation about continued support for next year's garden expansion. And now that we have school district support, it will be easier to get necessary permissions for future projects. With climate change, we can expect unpredictable and extreme weather events in the future. We know to be flexible with our install dates and always have reschedule dates in the plans.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
Roosevelt High School has a great history of offering vocational classes attracting students all over the city, so the Urban Farm and Culinary Arts programs are a natural fit for the school. It helps to have the garden work built into curriculum, as there can be many hands working on a project while the kids are in the classroom. The Standish Ericsson Neighborhood Association (SENA) has been an invaluable resource and partner in this project. This project would not have happened without the support of the school, community and neighborhood. Having goals to connect with the community in meaningful ways is important: getting people out to experience the garden, help out with the work, and connect with kids that may not live in the neighborhood. Many volunteers see that their own kids or neighbors may attend the school someday, or school alumni will be future supporters. Inclusion of diverse stakeholders is important. Having many generations and cultures working together on a project will ensure the garden is maintained, loved and sustained for many years to come.