Two years ago, we decided we wanted to expand our role in our community and find ways to give back that felt authentic to our values. At first, we weren’t sure what that would look like.
We considered building a network of community gardens, since gardening aligns so well with our favorite topics – nutrition and health – and would provide residents with their own small plots to farm and lots of fresh vegetables to enjoy. But as we began to research what was available, we realized there was a lot of effort already going into community gardens across our city.
When we looked a bit closer, we stumbled on the missing piece – families might not have access or means to travel to community garden locations. And the gardens, while an asset to the community, were more focused on adult participants than kids and families. We wanted to teach kids about the beauty of growing and eating their own produce from the ground up. And we also wanted to help them share the literal fruits of their labor with their families. How fun is that?
So, first things first, we began to search for a seed school. We decided to look no further than our own backyard and adopt Waynedale Elementary School, run by one of the best principals we’ve ever come across, Kristee Hoffner. Ms. Hoffner is a visionary and loves her students. She is open to trying anything if she thinks it will help the kids intellectually, physically, mentally, or spiritually.
From the start, we told Kristee our goal was to build a school garden that was cared for by students. We hoped the school could use the produce as part of their lunch program and/or weekend box kits. Once we achieve critical mass, the goal would be to provide veggies for their families too.
Currently the school is undergoing much needed renovation and expansion, with COVID-related delays slowing the process further. It will likely be another year before we can install our beds, but our hope is to build indoor mini-gardens before the end of the year. Again, COVID has the potential to sidetrack these plans.
In the meantime, we do as much as we can to assist our adopted school.
- Artemis team members volunteered as judges for last year’s spring science fair.
- Our Director of Berry Science Melanie Bush talked one-on-one to families about the health benefits of berries during parent teacher conferences.
- At the request of the Principal and IT staff, we donated “coding” blocks, headsets and games for students.
- Artemis staff routinely participate in tech Fridays at the school as support/helpers for the kids.
- We are in ongoing conversations about how to get students involved in a vegetable garden on site. We are looking at several possibilities including raised beds or a green house.
- We recently bought bat house kits for a project between the kindergartners and the fourth graders.
- This spring we are sponsoring butterfly “growing kits” with a net upright habitat and live caterpillars for the younger grades.
We love Waynedale Elementary and hope to inspire other businesses to adopt a local school. Our schools need support, especially in these challenging times, and we are proud to help fill that need however we can. Through our work with our adopted school, we hope to play a small role in growing something beautiful.