In 2016, we continued our success in urban gardening. We created five new garden beds where we planted spring, summer and fall vegetables. Our produce weight increased from 70 pounds to 175 pounds. We had a fall vegetable festival and donated extra items to local food banks. Student team leaders were at the forefront of this effort to eliminate hunger in the community and to get other community members to eat healthier. This spring we will be adding five new beds to increase our production.
How do you plan to make this Play last during the school year and beyond?
This spring, through additional grant money and partnerships in Southwest Philadelphia, we will plant additional garden beds around the school. We have much room where we can do this, and we have many students ready to plant in March. A team of twenty dedicated students will be the core group leading this gardening effort. They will be mentors to younger children as well as adults in the community who would like to start their own gardens.
What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
We have overcome many challenges in creating these productive gardens around the school, but the biggest challenge happened back in October 2016. For the first time ever in three years, someone or a group destroyed the garden beds. An investigation did not turn up any evidence, but we replanted almost all the plants which were pulled up through their roots. The plants still grew and our crops were not totally ruined. Unfortunately, we can not put a fence around the gardens.
What improvements have you seen at your school?
Many students are eager to come to the school, even on weekends, to help water, weed and plant seeds. We plan on having a fruit tree orchard in the front of the school this spring. We will be adding many new types of fruits and vegetables here which will reflect the diverse cultures of our neighborhood.