This article was written by past Local Food Program Director, Steve Russell.
In September of 2013, Local First recruited three Americorps Public Allies Members, part of a program that works to identify needs and build capacity in the community. As part of their term of service to Arizona, the Public Allies team identified a need for healthy food options and environmental education in the Phoenix community. They partnered with Osborn Middle School (OMS) to finish and revamp an underfunded and neglected community garden program that never actually got off the ground, so to speak.
Thanks to support from the Steele Foundation the team was able to purchase most of the supplies and materials needed from local businesses. The team then solicited the remaining tools needed through community donations, and provided the school with ample resources to keep this garden thriving long after we completed their revamp. The team consulted with a local gardening design business to design a layout and an automatic watering system for the garden that would save time, money and energy, as well as provide a more efficient water delivery system for the school.
Last Friday, our Public Allies officially launched the eleven-bed community garden at the OMS annual spring festival. The project was a huge success! Many of the garden beds were flourishing already and the team filled the last two beds with donated transplants, along with the help of the kids that day. We soon learned that many teachers had already begun incorporating the community garden space into the classroom, to teach topics such as geometry and biology and that the student council had provided the festival with fresh salsa from the garden’s tomatoes and peppers.