Each summer churches, community centers and schools throughout the metro host Upper Room summer programs. The Upper Room envisions healthy and vibrant urban core neighborhoods. Their mission is to “Transform and revitalize urban core neighborhoods by offering and supporting quality programs, including education, comprehensive health care, jobs, and community and economic development.” The Upper Room has been hosting summer enrichment programs since 1999. One of those programs is at Holy Cross Catholic School in Northeast Kansas City, a Schoolyard Gardens member.
During the school year, Holy Cross 2nd graders use the garden as a learning tool and as a brain break. The 2nd graders care for the garden and share their harvest with the school community.
This summer, middle school students attending the Upper Room program are standing in as stewards of the garden. The middle school students are maintaining the garden through the summer – harvesting and sharing food with Upper Room families, as well as weeding and watering the garden.
Before the end of the school year the 2nd grade students planted, summer crops, but the middle schoolers are now caring for them. Last week they spread mulch around all of the vegetables, and planted a second crop of cucumbers and green beans to create a succession crop in the garden.
Some of the middle school students attend Holy Cross during the school year, and remember their time working in the garden as 2nd graders. Their garden sessions are considered community service as their care this summer will ensure that incoming 2nd graders begin the year with a vibrant and plentiful garden.
The middle schoolers are also getting an added sweet treat. Blackberries are already mature and ready to harvest! It’s a well deserved reward for their hard work.