Since our Garden For Every School launch back in June, we have made some exciting strides. For starters, we have hired our stellar FoodCorps Service Member, Claire Londagin, who is assisting schools throughout our community. Claire, a native Oregonian, came to us with a background in sustainable agriculture and food systems. She is already digging in – literally and figuratively.
Achieving our vision requires a multi-faceted approach that provides several types of support for teachers, schools and gardens. Here’s an update as we head into fall!
Strategy: Provide Technical Assistance
Claire recently began working with the Three Rivers Wellness Committee to provide technical assistance in their quest for an indoor mobile garden. She’s been researching a range of options, from DIY It to Buy It.
Claire is returning to the Sisters School District (they had a FoodCorps Service Member last year, as well) to provide classroom education, Garden Club support, and fresh food cafeteria tastings. This week she is also leading farm based lessons at Seed to Table Farm during the annual field trip program.
Next week, Claire will begin supporting the Bear Creek Garden Club. During the month of October, she will help out with their new Friday afternoon elective program, and may provide technical assistance to their garden as needed.
Strategy: District Support
Back in the office, Claire has been working on compiling a new working document – Best Practices for A School Garden – which is now available on our website. This supports our desire to assist school gardens in being well-designed with an eye towards long-term sustainability. To that end, we have also started to work with the Bend LaPine School District to develop a school garden application process. This would help ensure that if a garden is started within the district, everyone is on the same page to facilitate long-term viability.
Strategy: Garden Grants
We are excited to support local schools in Central Oregon with small grant funding from $500 to $1,500 to build, support or expand indoor or outdoor school gardens. Applicants can now apply online. Deadline for these grants is November 17, 2017.
Strategy: Central Oregon Garden Educator Network
We recently expanded our network at the High Desert Museum’s “Teachers Night Out” event, where several enthusiastic educators signed up for our Garden Educator Network mailing list. Our fall gathering is set for Tuesday, October 10th at Elk Meadow Elementary School garden, 4:30 – 6:30pm.
Here at our own Kansas Avenue Learning Garden, we had over 300 hours of volunteers help throughout the season. In addition, we achieved 140 student contacts through our partnership with OSU Extension Nutrition Education Program, where kids learned to make recipes using fresh food from the garden. We also continued our programming with the Boys & Girls Club. Produce that the club did not eat was donated to either The Family Kitchen or HDFFA’s Grow & Give food donation program. In addition, we hosted 7 classroom field trips (almost 200 students!) and weekly visits from Amity Creek Elementary this fall.
Since school started, we have seen students walk over from Amity Creek Elementary School for garden tasks, to explore sunflowers, and to document observations in science journals. We’ve also been hosting fall field trips with Highland, Elk Meadow (they took public transportation, with the help of Commute Options!) and Buckingham Elementary School.
We’d like to thank all of our funding partners who have helped support not only our own Kansas Ave. Learning Garden, but also our vision of a Garden For Every School. Special thank you to Whole Foods-Bend, “Garden Steward,” for supporting us through the 5% Day and bag donation program last quarter. This support was key to launching our Garden initiative! Thank you to Saginaw Sunset and Next Level Burger, our “Bed Caretakers” who also invested in this program. And special thanks to The Bank of The Cascades Foundation for awarding us a grant. We are very grateful to ALL of the individuals and businesses who supported our garden program this summer. Each and every one of you helped us launch this new vision – we couldn’t have done it without your help!