Project Reach: Community Garden
Students and staff in Project REACH are underway with their summer gardening project. This is the fourth year Project REACH, a TRIO Talent Search Program on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Boston, has had a community garden service learning project aligned with its five-week summer academic enrichment program. This year is different, however, because the Talent Search Program received a Jamba Juice grant sponsored by the National Gardening Association. This year’s theme: “It’s all about the fruit & veggies.” It is also the first year that the service learning project is offered alongside a health and nutrition class. In the past, the curriculum had connected gardening through its English Language Arts—students read the book “Seed Folks” and learned about community gardening by growing and maintaining one of their own.
This year’s class is being taught by program staff, Beth Fitzgerald and Stephanie Dort, who also work as Talent Search counselors throughout the school year. James Allen, the UMass Boston Greenhouse Manager, continues to support the garden project, and students will visit the greenhouse several times throughout the summer to grow and monitor their plants. The new class has several hands-on workshops around gardening, composting, and nutrition. It promises to be a successful year, as all 30 program participants are participating in the project.
On July 14th, students visited the garden site at the Dever Elementary School for the first time. The school is just a short walk from UMass Boston, and the project is a good example of a community partnership. Having the Talent Search students oversee the garden during the summer not only maintains it but helps beautify the school campus. Students weeded existing garden beds, built a raised garden bed, set up a system for watering the garden, and started composting. Although the program ends before most of the produce can be harvested, the project gives the students at the Dever the chance to harvest in the fall.