Tuesday, July 23, 2013

ART's, Research, High School, Prison, Gardening

Portland State University joined forces with Oregon's only women's prison to build a garden. Read about it here
I start grad school in a month. Everything I have been dreaming about is just coming into fruition. I am attending the School of Sustainable Communities at Northern Arizona University. Let me start by telling you about my project thesis.

I believe gardening with at risk youth will lower their risks and raise their grades. 

I first came up with this idea to garden with at risk students while I was looking for an undergrad internship that was required for me to graduate. I had to find something close to home because of the kiddos. I was having a hard time so as a last resort, I decided to try and make up my own research project. I contacted the high school by my house and asked if I could garden with some of the kids. The principle was ecstatic. Then, as luck would have it, I found another internship. And so the story goes...
It has not always been an asset to talk a lot. In fact, sometimes it's downright annoying to other people. Over the years I have learned to tone it down a bit, but this project is so exciting to me that I have blabbed. And that blabbing has paid off! I was talking with a man who will be in his second year of the Sustainable Communities program and mentioned what I wanted to do. He has heard that a teacher from the same high school I had contacted before had just received permission to build a garden at the school. I contacted the teacher and wouldn't you know, she's the teacher that works with the at risk students! We met and I'm in!

The first few weeks that I am there, I will be teaching the kids how to knit as I get to know them. Then I will be bringing guest speakers. Gardening involves biology, geometry, calculus, chemistry, the environment, and reading and comprehension. She has allotted me time during her Thursday sessions to  teach the kids about composting, grant writing, companion planting, all things garden. I am hoping to stay with the students the whole two years I am in the program.

The next big thing to fall into my lap was the ART's facilitator. ART's stands for Action Research Team. There are several teams and I will lead the gardening team. My team will consist of grad students in my program and also incoming NAU freshmen. I have so many things that I am looking forward to doing with them. I have the high school garden. I want to take the team to another high schools green house and let that high school's students teach us. I am acquainted with a woman who runs a behavior health clinic in need of garden help. There are also the community gardens in need of our help. And the neighborhood association in my hood. There is the elementary school garden. And lastly, an this is a huge dream still waiting to be realized, a prison garden. Seed to table for men, women, and youth in the correctional system.

My goal is lofty. Made even loftier by the fact that I need to still raise three amazing boys, hold down my job, and get good grades. Oh, and on top of all of that, Tris and I decided to get married in August of 2014. So add planning a wedding to that. I now I have the drive to get all of this completed, I just hope I have the energy everyday to fulfill my obligations.

First things first, I need to get a fingerprint card, look up laws governing gardening in public schools, read up on Nature Deficit Disorder, and get donations of yarn. Anyone feel like they want to raid their stash?

Big things are aloft for this queer hippie. I will do my best to keep y'all posted.


  1. Wow! You have so much figured out already! That's great! I still don't know what I'm going to do exactly

  2. You are amazing. And congrats!