Van Buren Middle School Community Garden
CURRENT COORDINATION – 2021:
- Garden is building soil and fruit tree health. Throughout COVID-19 access to the garden has been spotty. Si Se Puede has been cover cropped and mulched, and trees have been mulched, pruned, rebermed, and treated for diseases. Our fruit tree harvest of plums and apples this year has been well over 25 pounds.
- The facilitator / coordinator of the Urban Ag Project has begun working with Lutheran Family Services to bring refugee families into the garden. Three Refugee families brought in by Lutheran Family Services are actively farming their rows with amaranth, tomatoes, chiles, and basil.
- Si Se Puede has become a learning garden for the Urban Ag Project:
David C. and Skye O. began an internship with the Urban Ag Project in
June of 2021, sponsored by the Presbyterian Grant. The interns learn about no-till farming, observation and planting with the seasons.
- We are eager to get students and volunteers back in the garden this year, so let Bridget Llanes know if you would like to be a part of our Spring-time planting think-tank and crew.
- Van Buren Middle Schools Si Se Puede garden has been weathering out the pandemic with new garden co-coordinator Bridget Llanes after Travis McKenzie left to bless Polk Middle School with his passion for youth and skillful gardening.
PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS – 2019/2020:
- In November 2020, Interfaith Power and Light’s Forest of Bliss Campaign donated two more apple trees to the school yard orchard. IDHCC also generously donated mulch and compost from Soilutions.
- In September 2020, Van Buren had a volunteer event Co-Lead by Community Schools Coordinator Jay Cordova, Travis McKenzie and Bridget Llanes. Much of the work in the garden this fall has been centered around fruit tree maintenance, cover cropping, re-establishing the rain garden, and cover cropping.
- In an early 2020 meeting between school staff, the APS garden specialist and APS Capital Outlay Committee, the Capital Outlay Committee showed that a new building facility is planned for the site as part of the APS Capital Master Plan.
- General obligation bonds were passed in the November 2019 election which will provide funding for development of the facilities. The ‘Falcon Farm’ project will have to be re-envisioned if the school wants to continue moving forward with the concept.
APS Maintenance and Operations has provided access to potable water on-site.
- The APS Garden Specialist is meeting with members of the APS board in December 2019 to discuss the potential of providing the position with a budget for APS garden projects, such as an APS Garden Conference as well as physical garden project support.
- APS could benefit from increased social media partnering (youtube, etc.) and recognition of donations through the APS Education Foundation.
- Schools adjacent to parks and open space could provide opportunities to partner with the City, however this has been difficult in the past as there are many barriers and few overlaps in this issue.
- APS does not have capacity for Maintenance and Operations to maintain school gardens and the responsibility for maintianing these facilities must be handled by each school’s garden manager.