Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Downtown Project - School Garden

This project makes my bone marrow quiver with passion. I am a proud graduate of Las Vegas Academy, with memories of cooking an authentic German feast in the church’s kitchen to experiencing my first kiss by the tree under the stained glass windows. A decade later, I am deep in pursuit of connecting my love for children and gardening. When I learned about this project, I felt the horn of Neptune echo through my blood. (If my overt metaphors are making you uncomfortable, just please understand that I’m trying to convey falling in love with a possibility.) I was equally excited to bring my fellow permaculture teacher and friend, Cindy, in on the project. I love her brain and am always looking for an excuse to bask in her brainstorm. This project seemed to embody what Cindy and I have spent countless hours chewing on pencils over. How are we going to get schools to love gardens as much as we do?
So far as I understand, this will be a private charter school beginning with 0-5 years, each year adding a grade. The students will mostly come from working families, primarily those that work with Downtown Project’s sugar daddy, Zappos. The goal is to create a very hands-on curriculum centered on a garden that feeds the students and their families with an after school program designed to cook hot meals to take home and, occasionally, a community dinner at the soon to be events center, the former church.
Cindy and I met up with the established team of directors and planners at the site of the future charter school last Thursday. We both took time off from work, driving from our suburban homes, and arrived eager to discuss with pads and pencils ready to go. Ideas were flying out of my mouth, unedited and unbridled in enthusiasm.
  • Start a compost bin, this way you spread interest in the school garden and community center by getting the LVA kids involved through a Foodie/Garden Club and even the neighbors (you know, the people that live right across the street), and at the same time generate a source of nutrition for the soil that will in turn nurture the community.
  • Contact Nevada Fish and Wildlife and the local Tortoise Rescue Group and designate part of the garden space to native flora and fauna, making a connection for inner city kids and adults between the importance of preserving wild spaces and our local food heritage.
  • Promote water harvesting within the soil so families learn easy and applicable ways of honoring this valuable and essential desert resource. 
We were given a quick tour of the outer perimeter painting a picture of what was already designed in the plans. At the mention of turf, a small sigh wriggled between my clinched lips. At this point, I got the impression that my input was more like a slip of paper in the suggestion box. Please believe, I do not mean to discredit that at all. A suggestion box is important because at least the opportunity to provide input exists, right? Realistically, I felt that this beautiful opportunity has already set sail with a boat full of movers and shakers. Bon voyage and god speed! I’ll be there to smash the champagne bottle and wave. Time to start building my own boat.  

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