Community Comes Together To Create Garden At Bush Elementary School
When Tari Geisler’s third graders returned from lunch, a large bowl, some flour, fresh raspberries and other baking materials awaited.
“We’ll be making jam today using raspberries from our friends at the Jamestown Public Market. Can we all say ‘THANK YOU’ to our friends in the community who made this possible for us?” Mrs. Geisler asked.
“THANK YOU!” each student loudly exclaimed.
Raspberries, hopefully, are only the beginning of some of the fresh produce that will be available at Bush Elementary School in the coming days, weeks and months. The school, in partnership with the Jamestown Public Market, has received a United States Department of Agriculture Farm to School Grant and is participating in the market’s GROW Jamestown Edible School Gardens initiative.
The funding has “laid the foundation” for a new school garden at Bush, a collaborative effort made possible through the help of teachers, parents, and community members.
Amy Anderson, a pre-kindergarten teacher, has led the effort with kindergarten teacher Annie Berg. The collaboration began when the Public Market’s “Mobile Market,” considered a “farmers market on wheels,” paid a visit to Bush several years ago.
“That opened up the conversation with the folks from the Jamestown Public Market to talk about how else we could support the community and our students here,” she said.
“We’re really excited about this opportunity to work with the Bush community to help bring this garden to life,” added Hannah Bavuso, community coordinator for the Jamestown Public Market. “One of our goals is to increase communication across our food systems and to broaden education related to agriculture. We’re really excited to support the school district in this way.”
“We are so grateful to the Public Market for helping with the legwork on the grant writing process, getting the funding and bringing in the extra resources we need to get this going,” Anderson added. “They’ve reached out to people through the Mobile Market over the last two years, they’ve made connections with our families, and they’ve helped bridge the gap between the community and the school district.”
The team of teachers, parents, and community members officially built the garden beds in late October and planted its first crop of garlic during the school’s trunk-or-treat event. More garden beds, a fence, and much more will be added in the spring.
“After planting the garlic, we hope to use the funding for a composting spot, a garden shed, and tools,” Berg added. “We’re also hopeful that one day we’ll even be able to create a learning space for students to observe what’s growing in the garden to add to the learning experience.”
According to the USDA, “Farm to School increases the amount of locally produced foods served through child nutrition programs, while also educating children about how their foods are harvested and made. Various child nutrition operators can participate from farm to school, from states and tribal nations to schools and community organizations.”
The Jamestown Public Market’s award is one of 123 projects funded by the fiscal year 2022 competitive grants. Since the USDA Farm to School Program’s inception in 2013, the department has awarded nearly $75 million in Farm to School Grants, funding more than 1,000 projects across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Puerto Rico. These projects have reached over 25 million students in nearly 60,000 schools.
Those interested in more information on how they can assist in the school garden process can contact Hannah Bavuso at firstname.lastname@example.org.