Hello friends of Schoolyard Gardens! As crazy as this is for me to think about, this is my last week at Kansas City Community Gardens! My year of AmeriCorps service is finishing up at the end of July, and I am moving into a new season of life to explore different opportunities and options.
It is difficult to sum up a year of service in a few sentences or paragraphs, but I will do my best. I started my year of AmeriCorps service as a fresh college graduate and have learned a ton about gardening and working with a small team through my service here. Here are just a few lessons I have learned throughout my service at KCCG:
1. Straw mulch is a gardener’s best friend: straw mulch keeps down weeds, cools soil, and retains moisture, which makes gardening a little easier on everyone!
2. Lamb’s quarters is delicious and edible, but will quickly take over a garden bed: when I first started at KCCG, I was encouraging gardeners to keep lambs quarters in their garden to harvest the leaves for salads and wraps. Unfortunately, lamb’s quarters produces huge amounts of seeds each season and will quickly reseed itself. Enjoy this tasty weed, but definitely pull it out of your garden lest you have an entire bed full of it!
3. Children love digging for root veggies: Many times when I was cleaning out gardens with students, we would find onions, carrots, or potatoes left over from the previous season. No matter how many we found, each new veggie was a special gift to the student who discovered it. They always ran up to me and showed me how proud they were of their unique find. It didn’t matter how small or dirty the veggie was, they would still excitedly tell me all the things they planned to cook with it when they got home.
As someone who grew up in the KC area, it has been really great getting to know the KC schools through my service. I will miss planting days, check-ins, and garden games with the kiddos. One of my favorite memories at KCCG was working with Ms. Divalerio and Ms. North at Hogan High School. The students always showed up willing to work and engage with the task at hand. We had a great time eating black-bean salsa at our harvest party last fall, and I will be sad to not enjoy another one in Fall 2018.
Another one of my favorite memories at KCCG was watering the garden at Troost Elementary. Although we didn’t have a hose at Troost, the students were one of the most enthusiastic groups of waterers I have ever had. As soon as I arrived for garden check-ins, the kids would already have the watering cans out, ready for me to turn on the spigot to give the plants (and sometimes some of the students) a little water. I never had to worry about the garden at Troost, I knew it would be growing as long as our garden club was taking care of it!
Lastly, in December of my service term, the Schoolyard Gardens team constructed 18 new beds at Oakwood Manor, which will allow each class to have their own bed of vegetables to maintain. It was really inspiring to be part of such a large garden expansion and see so many volunteers come out as support!
I will miss the beautiful Beanstalk Garden, the staff at KCCG, and all of the students I got the pleasure of working with. Keep growing everyone, and thanks for everything!