Several years ago the CVU café began tending a garden conveniently located behind the school cafeteria in hopes that it would blossom into a community garden. Recently a team of school faculty and students have taken over the work and have been doing a great job!
The garden, which holds many fall harvest foods (squash, beans, potatoes, carrots, cabbage, kale, chard etc.) provides vegetables and herbs for the CVU cafeteria. Many plants in the garden are donated by home gardeners on our staff. Russ Aceto (Direction Center) and Norm Tourville (Custodial Maintenance) have been very generous with plants they've started from their own seed. The garden provided over 300 lbs of food to CVU food services during 2012-2013 school year...as well as a little more which found its way into to the bellies of the students working in the garden!
Participation is growing, and anyone interested in joining the Garden Project Team is welcome to do so! Usually the students in CVU's Community Skills Program: Farm Crew plan the garden and begin planting the seeds in March. Students in the Essentials Program learned about and tended the plants under lights in their classroom until they were ready to be planted. The Farm Crew also built raised garden beds and a shed, which holds gardening materials (see side pictures). CVU's Maintenance Department has also been hugely supportive and helpful throughout the process: there's nothing like a tractor and access to some gravel or soil to help move things along!
The long-term goal for the garden once community and school interest peak, is to relocate to a large area behind the school and transform the area into a community-supported farm. CVU's engineering teacher, Olaf Verdonk, and his students have been challenged by Peggy MacDonald (Community Skills) to design hoop houses to fit our raised beds. This will make it possible to grow herbs and greens well into the fall, and earlier into the spring. The goal is to include as many CVU students into the Garden Project as possible by including some garden art along with using the produce to teach CVU students and other community members local sustainability, farming & cooking techniques.
"If it grows and is beautiful, healthy and productive, the creative and motivated faculty and staff of CVU will find ways to integrate it into the curriculum; it will become more and more useful to our community." ~ Alicia Kroll, garden coordinator