Where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday that we were planning spring workdays, crop planning, seed starting, and hiring student gardeners. Now, we’re holding wrap-up meetings, saying goodbyes, putting gardens to rest, and getting ready for 2013. Our Students have completed their last workday as Growing Food, Growing Health Gardeners and harvested the last of the fall crops. Closing this chapter of the Growing Food, Growing Health book calls for a look back onto the great season and the many special moments we created and shared.
Running for Food, Running for Health – On a relatively cool morning in July, we got to the West Garden at 5am to start setting up for an event we’d been planning for months. We’d invited our entire community for our first ever 5k fundraising race. Thankfully, people showed up. Lots of people. They ran 3.1 miles, volunteered, took a tour in the garden, or just watched. The combined energy on that day was electric, full of smiles and achievements. We set out to create a fundraising source for our garden project and ended up with this magical event which we will do our darndest to re-create year after year. Save the date: Saturday, July 27, 2013, 7:00am.
Community Supported Agriculture – We love building relationships. It’s one of our favorite past-times. So, it should come as no surprise that establishing our first CSA (a term for a subscription vegetable service) was a highlight of this season. We got to know our subscribers and their preferences, habits, and personalities very well over the 20 weeks that we delivered produce to their workplace lobby. We published weekly newsletters where our Student Gardeners could voice their experiences in the gardens and connect deeply with those enjoying the fruits of their labor. Starting our first CSA in the most difficult growing season in generations was challenging at moments, but delivering 240 bags of fresh produce was nothing short of a delight. Thanks to all of you, we already knew our gardens are the perfect example of Community Supported Agriculture, now we have the program to prove it!
Cleaning onions and talking about our feelings – I don’t know if you realized it, but this summer was particularly warm. It was hot at the West Garden. It was hot at the Hillcrest Garden. It was hot at the Sunset Hill Garden. It was hot at 9am. It was hot at 9pm. It was just hot. And as all growers know, even in the toughest of conditions, the show must go on. These 14 and 15 year olds continued to weed, water, plant and harvest even in some of the most ridiculously hot temperatures we’ve ever experienced. When I think back, I still remember so much laughter and good humor. I remember that the BIG days were significant, but what made our season special were the everyday conversations and events mixed with cheerful, uplifting banter. I’ll always remember standing around our table, cleaning onions, and talking about our feelings.
Through all the big events and laughter, we still managed to grow some produce. This year, we’ve harvested over 2,400 pounds of produce! Over 500 of which went directly into the cafeterias at West and Sunset Hill. That brings us to SIX THOUSAND pounds harvested since the beginning of the project. In other words, THREE TONS of produce planted, tended, harvested, loved and delivered over 3 years. Kudos to Southwest Middle School, our sister Garden whom we have worked closely with, for harvesting over 1,000 pounds in their first year! And what a year for the first.
Your picture this time is our five Student Gardeners the evening of our wrap-up meeting. Doesn’t it just warm your heart?
Look out for our third annual Community Dinner in early 2013!