By Pamela DeMassi
With little or no outdoor space, how does your garden grow?
Grow it smart. Grow it up. Garden UP!!
Amid the concrete and asphalt found in many urban cities, making the most of limited spaces to maximize food sources has been found to contribute significant environmental, social, economic and health benefits for our urban communities.
Trying to understand this challenge was just what our kids at the Morristown Neighborhood House decided to take on as part of a year-long environmental STEM program that was part of their after-school and summer camp curriculum.
With the help of volunteer carpenters and very simple and inexpensive materials like pieces of wood, pallets, chain links, and wire hooks, their vertical garden masterpieces came to life.
Next, working with expert gardeners and certain staff with green thumbs, the kids painstakingly filled their containers with organic soil and sowed their seeds of fresh herbs and vegetables.
Unlike that beloved story of Jack and his beanstalk, they didn’t grow magic beans. But the magic happened anyway with a bountiful harvest that grew to unexpected heights.
The real excitement came when they transformed their yield into tasty veggie pizzas complete with garden tomatoes and chili peppers.
By putting their hands in the soil and hearts in the community, kids not only learned the science of building and planting gardens, but also discovered from the rich culture and traditions of gardening found among African American and Latino cultures that they now could grow veggies on a stoop, rooftop, or a fence at home.
Garden Up: Using Vertical Landscape Technology to Solve Food Access in Urban Communities, was the breakthrough learning opportunity supported with generous grant funding from Arconic Foundation, PSE&G and Celgene. Skills that will last a lifetime.