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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

 

The “Veggie Maniacs” are Crazy About Connecting People With Nature

 

Region 1, November 8, 2012

 

Progress is in full bloom at Pacific Middle School in Vancouver, WA where students are continuing work on a Schoolyard Habitat project. Parents, teachers and students have embraced this opportunity to develop a vegetable garden on-site and manage the small orchard containing apple, pear and cherry trees.

Initiated in the spring of 2011, the school's after school garden club has created a sizable garden that will produce food for neighborhood food banks while teaching the students about agriculture, geology, hydrology and biology. Referring to themselves as the "Veggie Maniacs", this groups aims to instill a sense of stewardship and conservation in young minds.

Partnership played a key role in phase one of the project as U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Home Depot, Burgerville, the Clark County School District and others came together to supply tools and technical assistance. In the spring of 2011, a 40 x 40 square foot section of the schoolyard was tilled and planted for summer vegetables, which produced tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots and squash. The orchard and adjacent garden produced grapes, apples and pears. An arborist checked the health of the trees and instructed the students on proper pruning and maintenance of the orchard. A tool shed was donated by the school to house all the tools and equipment. Water barrels were purchased and installed alongside the garden area to provide water even when school is not in session.

Phase two will include the design of walkways, paths and benches through the garden. Native plants and interpretive signs helping to identify them will also be incorporated. Signage will also identify the USFWS, local merchants, and partners affiliated with Schoolyard Habitat endeavor. This path will be built with materials donated from local businesses and will be 'green' in design to support the Schoolyard Habitat's goal of using sustainable materials. Phase two will also embark on design and restoration of the school's interior courtyard. This will include a solar powered water feature, bird feeders and bird bath, a pollinator garden, mushroom garden and worm factory. Children will learn about native and invasive species and habitat management while having fun in the garden.

Phase three will take place over the next three to five years and will monitor and maintain the garden and all the improved features. Graduating classes will hand over the management of the gardens and the equipment to incoming students.

  

 

No contact information available. Please contact Charles Traxler, 612-713-5313, charles_traxler@fws.gov