Under the warm August sun, Cottonwood Institute and City Wild partnered up for a service learning project with Growing Gardens in Boulder. We were treated to a tour of this amazing property and walked along rows of sunflowers, heirloom tomatoes, bell peppers, squash, and potatoes. In the Children’s Peace Garden, we ate grapes off the vine, investigated the pizza garden, and even tasted a variety of edible flowers. Along the way, Connor, one of the Growing Gardens staff, taught us about how potatoes grow, the special qualities of their lemon squash, and even picked us a purple bell pepper. We tapped into our prior knowledge from science class to understand how photosynthesis works to grow our food. While walking through the community gardens, we saw many different varieties of vegetables and flowers, and different ways to organize a garden on small plots of land.
After the tour, we had the opportunity to discover hands-on, the hard work that goes into organic gardening. Using hands, tools, muscles, and drive we weeded rows of sunflowers. Some of us sought shade beneath the sunflower canopy by crawling under the leaves to do more precise weeding, while others used hoes to weed larger areas. The sunflowers looked happy by the time we were finished!
During our long lunch break in the shade, we cut up and ate juicy tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and jalapenos – all still warmed from being ripened in the sun! Yum!
Following lunch, we spent time learning more about Growing Gardens’ CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). Teens participating in the summer Cultiva Youth Project are responsible for running the CSA. The CSA provides fresh, local, certified organic produce to many members for 20 weeks during the summer. We were able to pick the cherry and grape tomatoes for this weeks’ CSA. While picking the tomatoes, we learned how to tell when a tomato is ripe, and how tasty they are when pulled directly from the plant!
We had a wonderful day in the garden with City Wild and the Growing Gardens staff. We’re excited to take all of what we learned back to our everyday lives, and maybe even plant a small garden in our backyards!
Written by Katie Craig. Edited by April Pishna.
Community Adventure Program (CAP) students unleashed their inner worker bee this quarter to create a great two-pronged Action Project that focused on honey bees and cold-frames. Based on early class discussions, the plight of the honey bee was a hot topic within this group, which was duly noted. However, they just couldn’t let go of the desire to continue the growth of the pollinator garden by building a cold-frame to help start plants and keep them growing during the colder shoulder seasons. So…….they combined their passions!
They started by educating themselves about what is happening to honey bees. They knew bees were disappearing at an alarming rate, but why? Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) was at the heart of their research. This is a mysterious problem that causes bees to literally disappear. There are many theories about the causes, everything from pesticides to cell phone use, but there is no one answer. Students conducted research on the web, consulted with Growing Gardens and watched a documentary called “Vanishing of the Bees.” This all came to the same disquieting notion that human activities as a whole are negatively affecting the lives of honey bees! So what can be(e) done?
They found the most simple and pervasive solution, aside from learning the art of beekeeping and starting your own hive, is to support local hives. As they learned from many of their sources, “it’s not about one person with 60,000 hives, it’s about 60,000 people with one hive.” So they set about attracting attention with honey…That’s right, a bake sale! They raised money for their cold-frame and attention to the bees by selling baked goods at school and encouraging the use of local honey to support local bee keepers. It was quite a success and spurred their energy to create a cold-frame to aid in the attraction of bees to their pollinator garden at New Vista High School.
A cold-frame is basically a small green-house that is low to the ground that keeps off the frost on cooler days at the beginning and end of the growing season. It works by trapping the heat of the sun under a window or door that allows access to a small box which contains the plants and the heat. The cold-frame came together quickly with donated and repurposed materials from ReSource in Boulder and friends of students. Just over 6 feet long and 3 feet high, their cold-frame should shelter many starts this spring as they bring their pollinator garden back to life.
Students are hopeful that the local bees will continue to survive and provide pollination for their garden and honey for their hives and a few of their baked goods. The fruit of their labor tastes sweet!
Check out the sweet video the students put together about their project:
This article was written by Madeline Bachner and edited by Ford Church.
“If every US citizen ate just one meal a week composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.” This statistic from Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle inspired 4th quarter Community Adventure Program students at New Vista High School to examine the environmental impact of food miles.
After researching more about food miles, students wanted to increase an awareness about this issue at their school. They volunteered at Flatirons Neighborhood Farm and Growing Gardens to get tomato plants and worked with a member from Square Foot Gardens to plant square foot tomato plots in the New Vista High School community garden.
To help increase an awareness about food miles at their school, students created educational displays about how to buy foods “in season” and prepared an amazing multimedia presentation for their whole school called, “The Imported Food Blues.” Overall they reached over 300 students, teachers, and staff members through their efforts.
According to one student in the class, “we made a difference in our community. We rose above and saw what the actual problem was and how it broke down into many problems. I have started to recycle everything that I possibly can. I ride the bus to school and ride my bike to the bus stop. I never use Styrofoam, ever. All these are small steps, but if I continue with these steps, a difference will be made. I hope to continue being environmentally friendly and to use what I have learned in this class to help show other people how to make a difference in the future. CAP helped me learn that we need to be aware and that we need to change in positive ways. I hope to take this class again and again. I also hope to go on my own camping trips and use the skills I have learned. CAP was a life-changing experience for me.”
To check out a slide show of this class, including awesome pictures from their overnight camping trips, Click Here.
“The act of putting into your mouth what the earth has grown, is perhaps your most direct interaction with the earth.” ~Francis Moore Lappe
After much discussion and deliberation about their Action Project, “Winter” Community Adventure Program (CAP) students at New Vista High School chose to research food miles and the importance of growing food locally. Students decided to prepare and repair the existing garden for the 2010 growing season, which was originally created by spring 2009 CAP students, and they decided to build a tool-shed for garden tools and other supplies.
In order to put their plan into action, students collaborated with several different community members and organizations. They volunteered at Growing Gardens in exchange for fencing, mulch, and seedlings. They connected with Patrick Padden of Sunrise Ranch to learn about permaculture gardening techniques and how to apply them in their garden. To build the tool-shed, students researched building plans, looked at other tool-sheds for ideas, and procured the materials they needed to build the tool shed. By the end of the quarter, everyone learned a great deal about how to grow food locally.
“This class has opened my mind to the possibility that one person can make a difference and that doing small things still has an effect. I also realized that high school students have a strong voice and people will listen to you if you use it. Before this class I thought of myself as educated about the environment and now I have even more knowledge and ability to make a change in my lifestyle.” Liam Dodd.
This Action Project could not have been completed without the time, dedication, and inspiring willingness of parent volunteer Jon Hall, who is a carpenter. Jon volunteered 8 + hours of time to help us create a tool-shed and teach students about building throughout the process. Many thanks to all the incredible community members who are always willing to help students make their Action Projects a success.
What’s the buzz? The 4th quarter Community Adventure Program (CAP) students at New Vista High School completed their amazing Action Project: a brand new bee garden, soon to be chock-full of sustainable food! The class was at a crossroads, wishing they could work on three different themes: green building, disappearing bees, and local gardens. Together, the students masterminded a project that addressed all of the above. They decided to plant a garden at their school and jumped right into the action.
Led by teacher Paige Doughty, the students started out at ReSource 2000, an outlet for recycled building materials. They volunteered their time and received reclaimed fencing for their garden in return. Next they learned all about green building and living from the Boulder Green Building Guild’s Ryland Gardner.
Beekeeper Christina Allen visited the CAP class to share eye-opening facts about bees: who knew bees pollinate about one-third of our food supply? The students couldn’t wait to plant a garden for these busy pollinators when they found out how vital bees are-and how fast their population is declining.
Thanks to donations and guidance from Growing Gardens, the planting was a huge success. Now New Vista has a local food-producing garden that is healthy for the economy, people, and environment in their community. This class definitely had an eye on the triple bottom line.
Best of all, the students saw what could happen when they didn’t mind their own beeswax. They got involved in their community, identifying important issues and seeing their project through from start to finish. Abby Heath said, “I can honestly say I’ve never been loaded with so much interesting and useful information before in my life. The biggest impact that CAP has made on me though is that I care. I care when people don’t recycle, and I care about our bee populations. I’ve realized during this short quarter that there is so much I can do to change the world, to impact the earth in so many different ways. I took so much out of CAP, and the best thing is that I can give so much back.”