March 21, 2014 - Seed to Harvest Meeting

posted Mar 22, 2014, 6:24 AM by Kristina Fernandes   [ updated Mar 22, 2014, 6:32 AM ]
Garden History/Overview
We went over a brief history of the Seed to Harvest garden (founded in 2012 by Maureen McMahon and Kathy Cappellano) and its goals.  Thanks to previous efforts, we have 10 raised beds, a large berry bed, two flower beds in the front, and irrigation system, and a shed full of tools/supplies.  A good place to start!

Garden Priorities
Since Maureen and Kathy have moved on with their students to Wilson (they will still act as advisers), our first priority will be the actual maintenance of the garden and ensuring that there is a sustainable process in place for years to come.  Other projects will come after this depending on the volunteer resources available.  A few of the things we'd like to accomplish this year are:

* Garden Maintenance (planting, harvesting, weeding, etc)
* Garden Signage (official Seed to Harvest sign at entrance and possible message board)
* Add Seating
* Generally making the garden more inviting and a destination for students/families (add color, fairy garden, pavers, etc)

Another priority is to work with the teachers to get the students more involved in the garden.  Opportunities will be presented to the teachers and will be executed on an "as requested" basis.  More informal opportunities will be presented to families throughout the spring/summer based on volunteers available.  See the Teacher Survey/Classroom Involvement section below.

Volunteer Management
We are going to continue to request volunteers to sign-up for blocks of time (week increments) to own maintenance of the garden throughout the season.  We will add a maintenance checklist in the shed so that we can keep track of which items were completed each week.

An email group (sth@benhempto.org) has been created to easily reach out to those who have volunteered to help with the garden.

Seed to Harvest Board
This year, the PTO has decided to change the structure of its 3 top committees (Cultural Arts, Seed to Harvest, and AEO) and have a board of several volunteers (parents, teachers and community members if applicable) to oversee the committees rather than a single person.  The purpose for this is to ensure that there is more knowledge retention as families "age-out", to spread out the work load, and bring new ideas into the groups.  We will start forming the Seed to Harvest Board as the season progresses with the goal of having a team in place by the fall of 2014.

Planting Plan
We have a preliminary garden/planting plan based on what worked well in past years and a few additional plants based on teacher feedback and recommendations from the Natick Grows group.  The plan can be viewed on the PTO website on the Garden Planning page.  A full list of the plants (with varieties) and planting schedule will be emailed around to the STH volunteers next week for any feedback/changes.  The goal is to have this plan finalized by the end of next week so that we can start planning the classroom seedling plantings.

Teacher Survey/Classroom Involvement
The PTO sent a survey to all teachers in March to get their feedback on a number of topics.  A few questions were asked about the STH garden and how teachers would like to get their students involved this year.  The results have been posted to the Garden Planning page.  The summary is that many classrooms would like to get involved.  Depending on the volunteers available, we will be looking for people to help coordinate with teachers (possibly have one person assigned to a grade or two) and maybe even go into the classrooms to facilitate the project/program.

Garden Seed & Supply Drive
We have a number of perennials planted in the garden beds (tulip/daffodil bulbs, herbs, berries) and a number of vegetable seeds.  We will need to get seeds/plants for the rest of the vegetables/flowers in the plan.  We may also have a few supplies that we will need.  We thought that we should start by having a Garden Drive asking families if they can donate an item on our "Wish List".  Then we can purchase anything left over with the funds in the PTO account (we have about $100 left for this season).  We will have to start the drive soon to ensure we have everything ready for the start of planting.  Would anyone like to volunteer to run this?  We can look through the shed during the April 4 Garden Clean-up (or sooner) to come up with the list.

Garden Infrastructure/Improvements
One of our goals this year is to add seating and make the garden more colorful and generally inviting.  Kathy Cappellano's husband is an engineer and his company will pay their employees to do volunteer work.  We have reviewed a design and were thinking of putting in bench seating in the center-back of the garden.  The bench would have tree trunk legs with wooden planks (that we could paint in bright colors) on the top.  Depending on what resources we can get our hands on, we could possibly add seating for up to 25-30 kids.

For more informal seating throughout the garden, we were thinking we could bury old tires (that again we could paint in bright colors).  I called over to Direct Tire and they said that they could donate as many tires as we need (I was thinking 5-10).

Another area to be addressed is the space between the garden beds.  This area is difficult for the maintenance crew to cut the grass and it often looks overgrown/messy.   Maureen donated some pea gravel last year.  We were thinking we could put down some weed barrier cloth and then lay the pea gravel (and maybe some pavers made by students - again made with bright colors) between the beds.  We have a 25% discount a Gardener's Supply and can get the weed barrier there.

Other ideas were to add a long potting bench along the left wall for student activities (maybe even add a garden sink for washing hands), adding flower beds under the painted panels on the back wall, edging out the berry garden and flower beds, adding more rocks to the borders, etc.  The possibilities are endless!  We will prioritize based on resources available.

Next Steps:
Friday, March 28 - Finalize Planting Plan by end of week

Monday, March 31 - Friday, April 18 - Classroom Seedling Planting

Friday, April 4 - Garden Clean-up Day
12:30 pm - 3:30 pm (or whenever people need to leave)
* We can use this time to assess the available supplies in the shed and develop a list of needs.

Comments