Gardening Class Update

Our Gardening and Preparing Local Foods class (nickname: “Garden Class”) is busy planning for Explorations Academy’s spring garden plantings.  Teacher Sarah Lane and her students developed a layout of the garden beds and chose seeds based on their interests, with an eye toward providing plant starts for a number of different uses. We will be growing greens for salads to be served at our Spring Fun!Raiser, plant starts for a plant sale, and numerous vegetables to be donated to the Bellingham Food Bank when ripe.

The Explorations Academy garden represents a collaboration between our school and the Center for Local Self-Reliance (CLSR), a group  that “educates and empowers our community for a sustainable future by demonstrating the resilience of urban homesteading.”  We are delighted that CLSR has obtained a long-term lease from the City of Bellingham for a plot of land adjacent to Fairhaven Park to establish the Center.  We are also honored to be working with this group to manifest our shared vision of an educational garden.  One year into our collaboration, we are gearing up for our second Spring’s planting season.

The class visited the garden last week and discovered that the garlic we planted last Fall  is already 4” tall!   We also met with Alison Kutz, a Board member of the CLSR, who talked with us about the plans for the land where the garden is located, bees and beneficial insects, and about what things we might plant to take best advantage of the available space. We then worked together to develop a planting and succession map of the garden and a seed starting calendar.

We will start some seeds in our greenhouse next week, while other species will wait to be direct seeded when the weather warms up in May. We’re quite excited to try our hands at raising Space Broccoli and even try rooting a pineapple!  Overall, the garden offers Explorations Academy students the chance to better understand food and food systems, both of the ecological and social sort.  We also see our garden plot as a place to demonstrate to the public how easy and wonderful it is to grow your own food!

We are grateful to the Washington State Department of Ecology’s Terry Hussman Seed Grant and to the Whatcom Community Foundation’s Farm to School Program for funding that has helped us establish this exciting program.  We also want to thank John Blethen for the use of our school building’s rooftop greenhouse, in trade for some of our organic starts!

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