Some of the most active, thriving school gardens are those that include the community. Partnerships can truly benefit a school garden, and in the case of Lanier High School and the Multicultural Refugee Coalition (MRC), prove to be a tremendous shared learning experience On May 5, the Lanier High School and MRC hosted its 1 year anniversary celebration at the community garden. The community garden is located on the ground of the high school where plots are divided between high school students in the Future Farmers of America program, led by FFA instructor Julia Ricicar, and refugees from Nepal, Burma, Iraq, and the Congo, led by Lindsey Hutchison of MRC. Both groups of gardeners are enrolled in SFC’s Spread the Harvest program to receive free seeds, plants, and compost.
Together with students, refugees are working side by side using some of their already existing farming skills and also learning new information about growing food in the Central Texas climate. The MRC also provides garden education and connects refugees to opportunities at local farms. The garden serves as a home for laying hens and honeybees, and one student even started a business to sell the honey and lip balm products she makes using the wax.
A the 1 year anniversary celebration, the fence surrounding the garden was covered in photographs from a year of hard work – from mulching beds and pulling weeds to building a shade structure with the help of a UT Architecture student. The garden has yielded a bountiful harvest and new friendships. Gardeners showed off the potatoes, squash, onions, tomatoes, herbs, and other vegetables thriving in 13 well-maintained garden plots. Student plots were also full of spring vegetables, many of which were started in their greenhouse earlier in the semester. The students also learn to save seeds for the next planting season.
We were thrilled to be a part of the celebration, and we look forward to seeing how this this collaborative community garden effort will grow and continue to serve as an example for other schools.