| Sarah Rudeen

Growing Food for the Community: STRIVE Prep-Westwood

Cottonwood Institute’s Community Adventure Program (CAP) students at STRIVE Prep – Westwood got the worm this time when they worked alongside Re:Vision team member Joseph Teipel to plant three fruit trees for the neighborhood food co-op. With lots of great ideas to consider, all focused around food scarcity, we worked through the logistical limitations of a successful action project. At first the students wanted to get a compost program running for their school through Alpine Waste Management, but the extremely high cost forced us to look elsewhere for a way to make a change. Then the students wanted to start a garden, but knowing the maintenance required settled for fruit trees instead! Not being able to plant fruit trees on school or public grounds, we reached out to a local food co-op to see if we could help. They were extremely accommodating and very glad to have us. Finally we had a tangible project in sight! Through the many attempts, the students learned the value of careful consideration and preparation in order to have a truly helpful project and to expect to be flexible when finalizing the plan. One student mentioned, “It’s crazy this tiny club can do so much good!”

IMG_20160510_170528542So trees cost money, right? The students worked to create a GoFundMe page, which ended up raising $325 (thanks to those who donated)! We also procured a $50 donation from Home Depot which purchased mulch, a shovel, and a rake. Along with the supplies, the money from the GoFundMe site went to Re:Vision to cover the costs of the trees from their preferred nursery. We were able to get two apple trees and one pear tree. Finally the time had come when we were completely prepared! We planned two days to travel to Re:Vision and put the trees in the ground. Re:Vision is a wonderful example of what hard work and collaboration can provide. This organization has taken an old junkyard and turned it into an opportunity for employment, service, and health justice; providing locally grown food to a neighborhood lacking a grocery store.

In order to make this even more of a learning opportunity, Joseph proposed that we plant two trees in the tilled ground and one in untilled ground. This way we can see the benefits of compost and fertilized soil versus gravel-filled hard dirt. The young friends were really enthusiastic when it came to swinging tools and a really tiny shovel. After a quick lesson on body mechanics, the middle schoolers started swinging away and created holes about two feet deep and three feet in diameter. Many of the families had tools we could borrow, so the students will now have the know-how to use them properly! We noticed the difference digging in the tilled land versus untilled. We placed the trees in the holes carefully and filled them back in using teamwork and communication.  

Afterward, these hardworking, dirt-covered tree planters felt accomplished; like they have really helped people and felt the benefits of perseverance. They discussed how they want to “help others to know it’s easy to do,” “help… plant with other people,” and that we “started small and succeeded!” We are all welcome back at any time to see the difference in the trees planted on the tilled versus untilled ground. We invite you all to go enjoy some apples and pears (and so much else) courtesy of the STRIVE Prep – Westwood CAP 2016 and to support a great local organization by shopping for your produce at Re:Vision!

A special thanks goes out to all of our supporters and funders that help make our partnership with STRIVE Preparatory Schools possible this school year, including: Ladd Foundation, Larrk Foundation, and PeyBack Foundation.

Written by: CAP Instructor, Lauren Savelle

Want to see more photos of this action project and other CAP adventures? Check out our Shutterfly share site! Click Here.


Categories: Community Adventure Program, Cottonwood Institute News, Program News, STRIVE Prep

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