By: Nora Fox
Despite the gloomy weather, over 30 dedicated parents, community members, students, and staff gathered at Bruce Vento Elementary School a week and a half ago to discuss the garden's successes and areas for improvement.
Though this was the second event coordinated by Marnita's Table this year, the goal and design was much more intimate compared to the first. The first event, held this spring, was a much larger gathering of Bruce Vento families, staff, administration, and community partners that marked the kickoff of the community garden. The guest list for this most recent event was generated through those that had expressed interested in being part of the leadership group of the garden. You can read more about the first event here: Peppers! Cilantro! Potatoes! Oh My!
With a smaller group, guests were able to discuss in more detail their involvement with the garden thus far and offer suggestions to increase participation and care of the garden this coming year. Many of the participants noted the need for a more organized parent garden committee and emphasized the importance of having translators available for all of these meetings. (Fortunately, the Bruce Vento staff translators were available to participate in this meeting!)
Some attendees suggested having both parent and youth committees to encourage involvement with the community members of all ages. Another great idea suggested was to have a garden lesson for individuals, including staff, students, and parents, as many members agreed they would benefit from some "gardening 101."
Another exciting development emerged from the night, as attendees showed great interest in partaking in cooking classes that would encourage use of crops straight from the garden. Some families identified American dishes they hoped to master, while others suggested fine tuning dishes from their home countries using novel ingredients. We discussed logistics of such classes (how many sessions would they like, duration of each lesson, involvement of young children and parents), and plan to move forward in the planning of the classes to be held at the school.
Overwhelmingly, the guests communicated their desire for more community: gatherings, meetings, collaboration in the garden, participation of neighbors, and inclusion of family in future activities. And we couldn't agree more! With the wonderful turnout and participation of guests at this last event, discussing their hope for continued involvement with the school and the garden, we felt well on our way to ensuring the garden grows just as the community strengthens. After all, it takes a village to raise a garden, right?
If you want to learn more about the great work happening at Bruce Vento Elementary School and how you can be involved, check out our project website. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@CYFCumn), and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Learners is an ongoing partnership between the Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium and the Bruce Vento Elementary School. Together, along with many other partners, we are developing engaging learning environments that promote student learning and wellness.