2012 School Garden Tour – 9/15/2012 – 9AM-2PM

Updated 9/08/12.

Hope you can plan on visiting some exemplary school gardens in the Pikes Peak region on Saturday, 9/15/2012. There will be gardens from the little ones to Colorado College, so there should be something for everyone. If you are looking to start a school garden, or trying to find a plot in a school/community garden in your area, or just wanting to see how gardens are being integrated into our community schools this is the tour for you.

Details are on the Garden Tour Page or at the Pikes Peak Regional Garden Tour Map.

Printable School Garden Tour Brochure

Growing Trend School Gardens in Colorado Springs

Although growth has been slower than in some parts of the country, we are beginning to see a growing trend  toward school gardens in our area.  Some examples:

Harrison High School garden a cooperative project of LiveWell Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak Urban Gardens, and the YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region.  The urban farm produced approximately 811 pounds – donated to Care and Share Food Bank  (rainbow chard, carrots, green beans, potatoes, onions, squash, zucchini, pumpkins, herbs) Thirty  plots for community members and businesses grew tomatoes, eggplants, green beans, lettuce, potatoes, flowers, and herbs. There are also fruit trees–peach, apple and cherry.

Wasson High School.  Program developed and maintained by teacher, Dolores Higgins with the assistance of Slow Food Colorado Springs which helped with building the raised beds.  Dolores Higgins also teaches an honors Horticulture class at Wasson.

Manitou Elementary School.  Garden started and maintained by school librarian with assistance of students.  They also have a ‘woolly’ school garden to grow edible vine plants, herbs, and berries indoors  “ We have a solarium that acts beautifully as a greenhouse.  Our problem was not enough floor space but oodles of vertical space.  Woolly Pockets will fulfill our wellness and summer garden needs indoors.”

Galileo Middle School.  Currently houses a geodesic dome where produce is grown for the Good Food Project at D11 under supervision of PPUG.  Currently NOT a student garden.  The District is considering a proposal for an extensive sustainable garden surrounding the greenhouse.

Rockrimmon Elementary.  The garden was the brainchild of Michele Davis, a first-grade teacher. In 2010, she found an accomplice in parent Mary Emily Nelson, who had recently moved to the area.

“Our garden was born out of a need to teach kids about where food comes from.”  At least 60 kids are involved in the Rockrimmon Garden Club but every class has visited the garden. The young gardeners said it’s definitely worth all the work, adding that the experience is something all kids should have. When the project came together, kids applied for and received a $5,000 Green Grant from the district that they may seek again.

The garden now boasts a beautiful donated fenced garden with approximately 30 raised beds, about a third of which are rented to community members.  They also have composting and worked with Eagle Scouts to build a small outdoor amphitheater for classes, etc.  A gardening after school club takes care of the garden during the school year and over the summer.  As with most school districts, all volunteers and those renting community gardening plots, go through the volunteer screening process with the district.

Woodmen Roberts Elementary is in the process of putting together a community garden at their school.

Foothills Elementary is also in the organizing phase for their school garden.

A common denominator in these examples is one passionate person who persevered to insure the project came to fruition.  Research shows that those gardens are most apt to succeed when local school community members and neighborhood residents are involved and create a sense of community around the garden.



Pere-Green Wildcat Garden

We’re official!  The newly formed Pere-Green Wildcat Community Garden is located on the northeast corner of Woodmen Roberts Elementary School.  We held our inaugural meeting  on January 30th with over 20 future members in attendance.  The enthusiasm was high.

This has truly been a community partnership with the school donating the land and the Peregrine HOA donating the fence.  We’ll be building raised beds on Saturday, March 17th (weather permitting) so feel free to drop by to help or just provide encouragement.

2nd Annual Connecting Local Farms and Schools Conference – Summary

On Friday, January 27th, Real Food Colorado and a number of co-sponsors held the 2nd Annual Connecting Farms and Schools Conference in Brighton. Local members Judith Rice-Jones, Gail Johnson, and Craig Johnson attended. In addition, there was a significant presence from local school districts (D11 and D49). It is expected that more detailed info, including videos of the sessions should be posted in about a month. D11 has a page dedicated to resources for Farm to School.

Key takeaways:

Regional Hubs in Greeley and Colorado Springs continue to make progress.

School gardens and local purchasing continue to progress. Denver Public Schools (DPS) purchased ~1.8M of local food last year. Denver now has 42 school gardens up and running. A great resource is their School Garden to Cafeteria Protocol put together with Slow Food Denver. They are also in the early stages of planning for more extensive food production on the ~50 acres of land that DPS controls that appear to be suited for ag production.

A couple of really great stories. First, the Denver Zoo is using locally sourced food to feed animals. Second, the Montrose Memorial Hospital is using locally sourced food in a big way, as evidenced by the Lobby Grill section of the 2011 annual report.

Lots of good resources for all: Colorado Market Maker, Colorado Farm to School, Colorado Farm to School Task Force, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.