April 2019 visit to the University of Arizona’s Community and School Garden Program

I did a week-long visit to Tucson ahead of the team visit later in the summer. During this time I shadowed members of the Community and School Garden Program at multiple sites (elementary, middle, and high schools, as well as amazing community-run gardens, and the classes at the University of Arizona). I found the visit utterly inspiring, and I was genuinely moved to see the enthusiasm, care, and hope among all the participants. And while it’s overwhelming to see all the different elements of the program after 10 years, I think there are lots of tips and ideas for small programs we can adopt back at Glasgow. The spaces the young people were dwelling and gardening in had such a transformative effect on their wellbeing–and it’s this aspect that will always stay with me, and motivate me.

The University of Arizona’s School of Geography and Development has its own intern program. Students chose the class as an elective and then volunteer at one of the partner schools for their classwork. Fantastic idea!
Helping out with Middle School science experiments!
Blue shows me around Manzo Elementary’s amazing ecology garden.
Lesson planning with Jessie, Rachel, and Blue!
Definitely could not grow cacti in Glasgow
Another school garden shot from a middle school
I got to help plant sunflower seeds!
Tuscon High’s farm club. Such a cool space!
Blue doing what she does best!
Rincon High School!
This garden was partly under solar panel – part of the agrovoltaics experiment.
This downtown community farm was such an inspiring space – all community run.
I definitely felt welcome!
Learning irrigation!

9 and 10 May 2019: The Planting Continues

Victoria, Ruth, and myself head to the garden centre and hardware supplies for more supplies. We have lots of discussion about the future and practicalities of the garden (it’s great to work with such an enthusiastic team). Back in the garden, Boclair pupils help get the soil and initial infrastructure set-up. I think I would best describe this process as managed chaos–and so much fun! The weather holds for us

We barely got the bamboo plant in the car!

8 May 2019: Transferring the plants to Boclair

Today I delivered all the veggies from my office to the school garden at Boclair. The pupils are fantastic at helping moving the stuff and getting stuff in the raised beds. I finally get to meet the amazing Ruth, and together with Victoria, we have a meeting about the future direction of the garden.

Mrs Bone, Miss Duncan, and myself get plotting! Not at all a posed shot!

March 29 – April 8, 2019: signs of Life!

I have to admit, I was pleasantly surprised when life first emerged from the compost. As someone who was, and is, a novice, I felt an immense set of satisfaction seeing those green shoots reach toward the sun. It was also easy to do – and once you get your hands dirty, the confidence stays with you.

Let there be life!

5 March 2019 – getting garden supplies!

Today Cheryl and myself headed to a nearby garden centre to acquire initial growing supplies. My plan, given the wintry conditions, was always to start a few key vegetables from the warmth of my own office! We also wanted to pick crops that would be hardy enough for uncertain growing conditions.

15th February, 2019: Beyond the Academy visit

Today I met again with Victoria to discuss the future of the garden, and we also met with the Head Teacher who signed off on the project. I also brought fourth year geographers with me, who were doing their “Beyond the Academy Project” on Boclair Academy’s school garden. Their project was amazing (all fourth-year geographers do an outreach-based project), and they spent weeks researching and designing the best practices for a community-facing school garden. You’ll see the poster they designed below – “Growing Green Futures.” Thanks to my amazing students, who ended up getting a well-deserved A for their project!

1st of February, 2019 – the first day at Boclair Academy!

The first proper day of the project begins (funding from BA started on the 31st)! I met with Victoria (one of the geography teachers) and Cheryl at Boclair Academy to discuss the main objectives of the research and our next steps together. We talk (or rather, dream!) about the future of the garden and evaluate the existing site. It’s a very cold and frosty day, and its tricky to see how these few raised beds (or “boxes” as I call them in the video [I had much to learn]) can act as a hub for outdoor learning and student community.