Our First School Garden Bike Tour


It was a sunny Saturday in October…

Earlier this month, a group of 10 folks biked to three youth garden projects on a beautiful autumn day. Here’s some highlights for those not able to join us!

We kicked off our ride at the Dennis Maloney Community Justice Center, one of Deschutes County’s Juvenile Community Justice Facilities. We walked through a gate within a fence wrapped with barbed wire, to see the newly constructed garden beds in their future outdoor garden space. While the youth are detained – for anywhere from a few days to a few months, they continue to get an education. The teacher behind this effort, Nancy Gilbertson, wanted to weave her love of gardening into what she saw as a need for a different kind of outdoor space for her students. While the outdoor infrastructure is being built and sourced, some built by the youth themselves, they got started with a shelving unit of grow lights under which they are growing herbs and lettuces. They have eaten salad they grew and harvested and loved it. Since the only outdoor space youth currently have access to is a concrete pad surrounded by tall barbed wire fence for outdoor rec time, this space will offer something different with plants, nature, greenery and food, all therapeutic and nourishing. “They love taking care of the plants. They’ll check on them everyday, and even ask to water them on the weekends when they don’t have classes and don’t have access to the classroom,” said Nancy.

Local biking advocacy organization and TEC Partner Group Bend Bikes led our crew south through the neighborhood to Bend International School, where educator Heather Leeder showed us around their garden space. Their hand-built outdoor worm tower, seed saving station, and variety of food and pollinator plants were highlights of this compact garden that is part of the outdoor play space where students have access. On October 31st, Peetie the School Cook, and Heather the Garden Coordinator, in collaboration with the garden elective students, will cut open the great pumpkin! They are having a contest to see who can guess the number of seeds in the pumpkin. Then they will be making a stew for the entire school to sample which will have potatoes, rainbow corn, beans, and the pumpkin from the school garden. Every student will get to sample the combined efforts of this school garden harvest. “This is the first year we have been able to have enough for a school-wide harvest feast!” says Heather.

Heading back up O.B. Riley Road, we ended our tour at the Desert Sky Montessori School’s new campus. Formerly REALMS, the new school used the same garden space, but with revamped fencing to include a future greenhouse and newly constructed garden beds. Parent volunteers Darlene Weaver and Linda Ly shared their dreams for the edible garden, invigorated by a post pandemic-impacted school year and enthusiastic parent volunteers wanting to contribute to the new school campus. They see potential for workshops and education not just on growing food, but also fermenting, pickling and expanding students’ awareness of what plants are even edible. Bikers were then treated to cinnamon rolls and baked apples, fresh out of the cob oven they inherited with the campus, designed by former REALMS teacher, Karen Holm, and built with help from students and staff. What a delicious way to end our school garden bike tour!







It was a great day to bike around visiting school gardens, and we hope to do it again in another part of Bend or another community!

Our 2022-2023 Garden Grant applications are now open!

Two of these three gardens are past recipients of our Garden for Every School grant, showcasing the variety of projects that can be funded and the difference outside funding makes on a school’s ability to create their dream garden! Our 2022-23 garden grants are currently OPEN and accepting applications. If you or your school would like to apply for a garden grant, see the materials below:

NEW: If you are a new garden in the Redmond School District or the Bend-La Pine School District, we’ve worked with the district to develop a school garden development process that ensures everyone is on the same page and working together towards a sustainable school garden. Please scroll down to “District Level Support” to learn more.

Questions? Please call 541-414-3979 or email Denise Rowcroft – denise@envirocenter.org .