PROJECT DESCRIPTION AND RESULTS
Prior to receiving this grant we had studied and experimented with gravity fed drip irrigation.
We plan to create a self-sustaining irrigation system for our existing garden project which includes two rainwater collection systems tied into our building’s downspouts. We will run plastic tubing from these to the gardens and we plan to build a windmill which will pump the water from the rainwater collectors to the gardens. We plan to use drip emitters installed in the plastic tubing at each fruit/vegetable plant to maximize irrigation efficiency by conserving water usage and by irrigating the plants’ root systems directly. We will continue as we did last season to use our produce to supplement Child, Youth and School Services (CYSS) summer camp menus and to offer for sale to parents and Detroit Arsenal employees at the Delicious, Tasty, All-natural (Detroit Tank Arsenal) Veggie Stand, which will be staffed by Middle School-Teen (MST) youth volunteers. Proceeds from the DTA Veggie Stand will be used to fund continued 4-H programming. We will use no fertilizers or pesticides in our gardens other than organic compost from our own compost piles.
1) We installed two rainwater collection systems in the downspouts of the CDC building.
2) We built four additional 4’x8’ raised beds in which to grow vegetables.
3) We ran plastic tubing from the rainwater collectors to the vegetable beds.
4) We installed drip emitters at specified intervals determined by required plant spacings to provide irrigation directly to the root systems.
5) We constructed windmill models to learn about design and construction techniques. We also researched various windmill designs on the internet. We then applied what we learned in the design and construction of a working windmill at the project site which we will tie into the plastic tubing to pump water from the rainwater collectors to the vegetable beds.
Nancy Mitchell, CYSS Coordinator. Provided financial and administrative authorization for the project as well as her unwavering positive support.
Teresa Brodsky, CYSS Middle School-Teen (MST) Director. Originally conceived the idea of a gardening program for MST youth. Approved and scheduled youth program gardening days. Organized “Big Green Help” days in cooperation with our Extension Service.
Anne Crotser, Master Gardener Educator Lead instructor at our local 4-H Extension Service of “Let’s Get Growing, Gardening With Kids”. Anne’s class provided me the impetus and insight to conceive the Detroit Arsenal Garden Project. Anne also assisted our youth in the garden planning meetings.
Ed Miller, Youth Member Parent. Ed was instrumental in helping us come up with the final design of the windmill. He then provided us with specifications and construction plans for the production of the windmill parts.
This project taught our students the importance of water and energy conservation. They learned how we can lessen our dependence on the municipal water supply, conserve our water resource and decrease our environmental footprint. The use of wind power taught a valuable lesson in energy conservation and sustainability.
I learned (again!) how important it is to keep a positive attitude, no matter how daunting the problems one faces. This project has reinvigorated me in my work with young people, and I believe the youth in our program sense that and appreciate it. Are the results ever truly and totally what we expect? When we began this project twenty eight months ago we expected things would happen that we didn’t expect. We were not disappointed in this regard. I think the greatest lesson our youth learned from this project was the ability to improvise, adapt, and overcome.
We involved youth educators in our Strong Beginnings (ages 4-5), Kindergarten (ages 5-6) , and School Age (ages 6-11) programs, to provide a resource for CYSS staff to encourage healthy eating habits while educating youth on the benefits of “going green”. We utilized our MST group (ages 11-18) as mentors to the younger children. Our MST youth will also create a powerpoint slide show to highlight their efforts which will be made available to USAG-DA Installation Management Command (IMCOM) for distribution to IMCOM Central Region. Last season’s project was submitted by IMCOM Headquarters in Washington, D.C. to CNN’s iReport International. For reference purposes go to cnn.com, click on “International” tab, search iReport for “Gardens serve as learning tool for Detroit Arsenal youth.”