Posted on September 21, 2012
Green Heart Buddies,
With school now underway and summer coming to a close, I wanted to take this time to update all of you on the leaps and bounds the Green Heart Project has made this past summer. As you know, your support and involvement has helped our program to flourish over the 2011-12 season. All of which was reflected in the record turnout at our first Spring Harvest Dinner in May. And the momentum carried over into the summer! But before we dive into the great things that happened, I want to make you aware of something that was not mentioned nor properly celebrated at our Harvest Dinner – the growth and achievement our Green Heart Buddies in the classroom.
This summer Mitchell faculty received our 3rd and 4th graders’ PASS Testing results. And though the scores are still not yet official and thus can not be shared with the public, I can say that the jump both grades made in the math and science arenas astounded the teachers! And from a teacher I quote: “there is not doubt in our minds that the time spent in the garden with all of our volunteers was a catalyst in that achievement.” So I first want to congratulate all of our students. This a true example of bearing the fruits of your labor and hard work. And I also want to congratulate and thank all of our teachers and volunteers who put their time and energy in with our students to help them achieve this!
And now, onto this summer!
As everyone in the agricultural world knows, summer time means growing time! And with the addition of our new 1/8 of an acre urban farm, growing we did! Beginning the week after school let out, we had 8 of our most eager and interested Green Heart Buddies show up for our inaugural Green Heart Summer Camp. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday a handful of volunteers would join our Buddies for another adventure in the garden. We had group harvests, water hose fights, weeding competitions, Hampton Park explorations. We made pizzas with our own garden veggies and herbs. We had tomato sandwiches and garden omelets. We went to art camp, shopped for healthy ingredients, delivered our harvests to restaurants and when it got too hot, we took a field trip to Folly Beach to chill out. See Facebook Photos.
And when the students weren’t out there in the morning, we had volunteers and corporate groups join us in the evening for some urban gardening – working hard to manage the jungle of weeds, fight fire ants and enjoy the cool(er) summer evenings with some music and friends. By the end of the summer, we had harvested 1,500+ heirloom tomatoes, 500+ peppers, 43 cantaloupe, okra, eggplant, and bushels upon bushels of basil and other herbs. All of which went home with our students, the volunteers who pitched in, or delivered to Chef Will Fincher and his awesome crew at Monza Pizza to be used on pizzas and other dishes!
What we achieved this summer was astounding to me as the PASS Testing Scores, and again it couldn’t have been done without our community pitching in to help mentor our students and enrich our garden and community. To all of our volunteers and students who took time to work and most certainly sweat in the garden with us this summer, I can’t thank you enough. Your effort and hard work has the garden looking great for another school year and the time you spent with us has absolutely made this summer one to remember!
And as we roll into the fall and the start of another school year that growth and momentum continues. For this school year, I’m excited to say that we have doubled the size of our program. We will be growing with our Buddies as they graduate to the 4th and 5th grade and welcoming the rising 1st and 3rd graders to our Green Heart Family. The College of Charleston and Boeing will also be an integral part of our program this year, providing resources, interns, volunteers and research that will help us build the capacity of our program and make more of those “unofficial numbers,” official.
If you would like to sponsor a class or volunteer with us please contact me at Harrison.firstname.lastname@example.org. Classes will be meeting Monday, Wednesday or Friday mornings twice a month. We are excited about our program expansion in the upcoming school year and look forward to your continued support!
See you in the garden,