Student works to get grant for Sauvie Island Academy community garden
Last school year, two sixth-grade students at Sauvie Island Academy led efforts to create a new community garden on their school grounds.
Sophia Johanson-Phillips, now in seventh grade, and a close friend who no longer attends the public charter school applied for and received a $400 grant from Katies Krops, a group that supports community gardens. The grant helped the school turn a fenced-in patch of overgrown grass into a growing herb and vegetable garden in just a matter of months.
The garden is now tended by Johanson-Phillips class of 24 seventh-graders. The students grow broccoli, carrots, kale and more.
Sometimes ... we come out here and we dig, and we plant more stuff, put more soil and water in, Johanson-Phillips says. Its really fun, because we dont have to sit around in class all day.
The responsibility of caring for the garden will rotate among classes throughout the year, her teacher, Matt Radich, says.
The garden program at Sauvie Island Academy is intended to provide not only fresh produce for the cafeteria and also to students and senior citizens at the Emeritus at Rose Valley assisted living community in Scappoose, to which crops from the garden were recently donated but also a special learning experience, explains Erica Soto, fiscal development manager at the school.
Gardening has the potential to provide students with lessons in mathematics, economics and life sciences, among other subjects, Soto says.
We want them to have a rich experience of learning that doesnt usually come from a textbook, she says. And Sauvie Island offers that landscape for us to provide this learning, where kids dont even realize theyre in a classroom.
Radich says care of the vegetable beds, including those that predate Johanson-Phillips project and are generally tended by younger students, is done on a class-by-class basis. He and Soto suggest the school would like to see a more unified approach, especially among sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students.
Were trying to do more of a cohesive thing with the upper grades, and [were] really pretty much starting a garden program that wed like to expand, says Radich.
Produce from the gardens, such as herbs and tomatoes grown in an overflowing vegetable bed around the side of the school building, makes its way into the salad bar in the school cafeteria on a regular basis, Radich and Soto say.
Were eating the food that we grow, Soto remarks. And not only is it good for our bodies, but its good for our budget.
Johanson-Phillips is working with Soto on a new grant proposal that Soto says could net the school up to $1,000 for work expanding and improving the community garden.
Im in development because I love kids, not because I love earning money for schools, Soto says. But the dollars go to the kids. Its an investment in their lives. And we cant always measure the success, but when you see somebody like Sophia just bloom, no pun intended ... with the leadership of this project, its beyond the grant funds that we received. And she now is a leader, and shes confident. And I just love seeing that happen for kids.
A few beds in the new garden are currently unused. Radich says ideally, they will be cultivated later on in the school year.
I think the last year, it was definitely an idea in progress, says Radich. And it seems like this year, we have a lot of student buy-in. People are really excited.
He adds, Wed like to get it expanded, get those other beds going, so that everybody feels like they have a plot that they get to sort of have their personal space. And well do some inquiry projects where they can decide what to plant. And, you know, some things will work with the weather or the season, and some wont. And its all an awesome learning process.JW_DISQUS_ADD_A_COMMENT