We created a class, in its inaugural year, at Oskaloosa High School called “Sustainable Practices.” This class works in conjunction with our School/Community garden- and has utilized the SARE grant funds. We are nearing completion of our garden shed that is made from recycled pallet wood. Funds from the SARE grant purchased many tools to help us complete this project (pry bars, hammers, hardware lumber, etc). Last year, Elementary School students planted a variety of herbs and vegetables. We also used funds to buy materials and build a grow light set-up. We have learned a large amount about the care of different strains and species of edible plants. We are just now starting to transplant those starts from indoors to outdoors. Students have learned a great deal through “hands-on” learning. They worked on and completed every project thus far, with little adult help. They have researched, drawn plans, and executed projects with a great degree of quality.
Our projects have been shared across the community- pictures/articles have been printed in the town newspaper, the school newsletter, social media & on the school website. We plan on starting a greater outreach to the community next year by placing flyers around town and going door to door to help with yard work to collect compostable waste. Our high school students along with volunteers from our community have helped grades pre k through 6th plant and will continue to do so. As our garden’s infrastructure nears completion we are setting our sights on spreading knowledge through workshops/demonstrations and food drives. Our newly established “Jefferson County Food Council” has claimed a stake in our efforts as well. We plan on collaborating with the JCFC, Rotary and local churches to provide educational experiences to those members of our community who are not in school and need aid of some sort. We have had great support and work at our garden site daily. On another note, we have built a kiln for our High School art class at our garden site. We are beginning a cross-curricular collaboration between art and science.
WORK PLAN FOR 2016
The class “Sustainable Practices” that was created this year was a hit. We had 39 students enroll in the class for the 2016-17 school year, and are now going to use an application process to determine enrollment. We will continue to improve our garden site by adding more plants, trails and artwork. We have a fundraiser on May 20th to raise funds for fruit trees to plant at our garden site this coming fall. We would eventually like to have an outdoor classroom (covered area). We also plan on focusing on more community outreach by providing a volunteer workforce for elderly (or less able) citizens who live in town. This workforce will focus on helping maintain yards/landscaping/exterior house work.
Educational & Outreach Activities
We attended two permaculture seminars. We also toured ~6 gardens to gain ideas for the design of our garden. Our classes had several speakers from various agricultural backgrounds. We visited two farms (dairy and beef) to gain knowledge of were our food comes from. Sustainable Practices students helped maintain their own school building through a variety of measures.
We encountered many obstacles on our journey. The most challenging was a lack of community engagement.
The lack of community involvement was a major obstacle in this project.
We established a garden plot. We were able to collect two harvests. We toured several nearby community gardens to help design ours. We also attended 2 permaculture seminars at a nearby public library. Our classes focused primarily on the biology of plants. In addition, many projects around the school, such as painting, pulling weeds and small building projects were completed by students. Students learned a great deal on many general forms of labor, including tool use and identification. Community/Civic engagement was the core of this project and emphasized to students in order to create more caring/doing agents of change.