We are in the last month of school before summer break and this time around I’m not making the cliché statement: “Where did the year go?” We’ve done A LOT, and I’m grateful, so proud of the kids and, personally, a little bit exhausted.
Here’s the run down:
· We completely renovated a deserted area and transformed it into our own garden oasis. We removed ugly chain link fences, painted, planted flowers, potted herbs and set up tables and colorful umbrellas for the kids to relax in the shade, eat a snack and even do a little homework after school.
· We cleaned and cleared a greenhouse that was used as a catch all/junk yard and transformed it into a functioning mini growing ground.
· We created a self-sustaining Friday Farm Stand where we sold school grown flower bouquets, herbs, bundles of greens such as chard and kale and an abundance of citrus donated by school families from their neighborhood trees.
· We re-instituted a compost program.
· We brought back the worm bin.
· We made new alliances and strengthened existing ones with other local school gardens and urban farms (such as The Learning Garden at Venice High School, Cal Poly Pomona and Wynbrandt Farms).
· We grew peas, artichokes, red chard, lactino kale, green leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, carrots, radishes, strawberries, oregano, lemon verbena, borage, basil, sunflowers, rosemary, marigolds, tomatoes, raspberries, plums, peaches, cucumbers, yellow squash, pumpkins, parsley, jasmine, cilantro, chives, grapes, tomatillos and two types of mint.
· We finally planted our much anticipated passion fruit vine along a chain link fence and its very first flower is now blooming!
We did all of this, along with purchasing new supplies, lots of soil (which is expensive!) and some organic lemonade for the kids, all for well under $1000 for the entire school year.
Yes, we’ve had a busy, productive year. The kids and I have had a blast watering, weeding, planting, digging, paying with the worms and harvesting our school-grown delicacies.
Next year I’m asking (read: insisting) on more help. I can’t do this alone, as I have for the past two years. We strong and proud Leos (yes, that’s an astrological reference) like to project that we’ve always got it under control and can handle any challenge, no matter how great. But there’s just no need for that, and it also goes against the entire point of a community type-garden which is, of course, to involve the community.
Perhaps people who don’t have ‘green thumbs’ are intimidated by getting in there. But all it takes is a willingness to fill up the watering cans or to help a kid dig a hole and pop in a seed. I have more clarity on how to improve things and get more involvement for the next school year, and I’m excited to see that come to fruition. Gardens, like us, are always evolving, and it’s wonderful to enjoy what we’ve already created, while anticipating more joy, learning and deliciousness to come.