By Rylie Young
Two years ago, the idea of Alliance Charter Academy having a school garden grew, and it all started with three humble garden beds in the front schoolyard. When numerous teachers said they wanted a space for their class, things got a bit crowded. Now they have upgraded to a larger space, made possible by a “Heal” grant that they received from Clackamas County, a healthy eating and living grant.
When explaining the idea of an actual garden, Jill Mohr says “So, we thought ‘you know, it might be fun to have a garden where teachers or ESs could go out with their students and actually have room to plant plants and to learn about how plants grow, to learn about the soil, the animals in the soil, the nutrients in the soils…’ so science and math sorta all built into the garden we are thinking it could be a learning environment, an outside learning environment.”
There were a few hoops they had to jump through before they could even begin to build. “There seems to be a lot of red tape that’s not necessary…” Says Lara Fabrycki “I’m going to say and assume that it’s from a place of wanting to make sure everyone is safe. So I’d say bureaucracy was one of the things [challenges],” After obtaining the permits needed, they installed the plumbing system and some garden beds. In summary, the first year was all the permissions, permits, and plumbing.
Thanks to many volunteers and the help from a second generous grant for community enhancement, they’ve managed to construct a successful garden. Within the last year or two, they’ve installed additional plant beds, a fence, a shed for tools and other various things, and a greenhouse. Further development is slowing down as they reach the end of the last grant and cold winter weather continues
With winter upon us, there is some preparation to do, Alex Farnham says “We are planning to buy some conduit and make hoops out of it to cover the beds so that we can plant earlier. We are also planning to put in some drip irrigation and fill the new beds with soil,” As well as laying down bark chips and cardboard. Jill Mohr is collecting cardboard for the garden, she says “I never have enough cardboard!“ The cardboard should lay on the ground and cover the grass and weeds then cover it with dirt to keep the grass and weeds from growing up.
“Generally, our challenge would be lack of work, of people, to you know, make it happen…” Says Lara “it’s always a big challenge when doing a project like this.” A growing garden like this is constantly in need of upkeep, the garden committee is always looking for volunteers for various jobs. You don’t need a green thumb to work in the garden. If you have some free time and need an activity, find Jill Mohr and see if there’s any jobs that you can do to better our school community garden.
Jill Mohr- Personal Interview 12/04/17
Lara Fabrycki- Personal Interview 01/02/18
Alex Farnham- Personal Interview 01/16/18