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NWP Global Registry of Apprentice Ecologists - Pinnacle Peak Elementary School, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

Pinnacle Peak Elementary School, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
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Registered: December 2013
City/Town/Province: Scottsdale
Posts: 1
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I love plants. Others love cars, some love horses, a few of my friends are even partial to welding and building birdhouses, but my hobby is growing and tending to gardens. There is something wonderfully captivating about gardens that keeps me returning day after day to see a little bit of faithful progress made by a minuscule green sprout. Some may say it’s like watching paint dry, but I think it’s quite the contrary: observing photosynthesis motivates me to work hard in school, sports, and the community. If this little sprout, despite it’s humiliating size and seemingly-negligible contribution to the ecosystem, can defy gravity and work every day towards greatness, so can I. Plants are my motivation because no matter how slow, if given the simplest tools, they can eventually make themselves magnificent. This year, I looked to share this source of my motivation with some of the most receptive members of our community: the fifth and sixth graders of Pinnacle Peak Elementary School. I was inspired to motivate these elementary schoolers to become pioneers of environmental stewardship through organic, local farming with an emphasis on healthy, natural diets.
In March of 2013, I began to gather the necessary tools to build a community garden for Pinnacle Peak. I visited and sought the advice of the leader of Maryland Elementary School’s prosperous garden, Cathy Kim. I received the warmest, most encouraging advice about vermiculture, gardening basics, and how to keep kids interested in organisms that fail to change before their eyes. I also visited the Desert Botanical Garden’s education director Nancy Grout, and had many discussions with the Pinnacle Peak Elementary school Parent/Teacher Organization president, Julie Ransom. After some careful budgeting and enthusiastic discussions, the PTO happily granted me the $500 that I would need to purchase all materials needed for the construction of two 4’ x 8” x 16’ raised boxes, filled with a cubic yard and a half of topsoil and half of a cubic yard of organic compost, lined with sprinkler hoses for irrigation, and filled with plants. Using the gracious, eagerly helping hands of classmates and family, we built our fortress of raised garden beds out of bolts, washers, and planks of wood, and filled it with topsoil and organic compost. To my delight, it would be ready for take-off with the coming of the fall planting season.
Perhaps the most exciting and definitely most gratifying step of the garden construction was planting the vegetables. With the help of my mom, I picked out a variety of vegetables and herbs that would be relatively easy to grow, foreign to most of the students, and fun to cook and try when harvest rolls around. These included broccoli, carrots, chives, kohlrabi, chinese cabbage, lettuces, jalapenos, bell peppers, basil, parsley, and chard. With these vegetables, I hoped to show the elementary schoolers how excited local gardening can be and how delicious healthy foods are. On October 9th, 2013, I brought these plants to Pinnacle Peak, and recruited the help of a classroom parent, Mrs. Olson. I couldn’t help but let an ear-to-ear grin spread wide across my face as I watched the students march in a single-file line, whispering excitedly as the garden and strange green plants with names like “kohlrabi” came into view. I shortly described to them their assigned duties: the crucial job of digging a hole just deep enough, precisely 18 inches in distance from the last hole down the line. They were ecstatic. When I cut them loose, I could hear shaky, enthusiastic voices tumbling over each other as they rushed to shout out their suggestions:
“We should plant strawberries next spring!”
“Can we EAT these things?!”
They were earnest with responsibility, and the whole ordeal took less than fifteen minutes. Watching how wonderfully animated they were, planting the seeds of their environmental stewardship, I was further inspired to continue to show them what it means to be a caretaker of the world.
This garden will be a beacon of sustainability for Pinnacle Peak Elementary School for years to come. It will help teachers actively demonstrate their lessons, provoke analytical discussion among students, establish foundations of responsibility, and instill an eternal understanding of the importance of organic gardening and local produce. I am motivated to show these students how accomplishing it feels to grow, tend, and eat the fruit of their own crops. I can demonstrate how growing your own food can remove stress from commercial pesticide production, limit eutrophication from pesticide runoff on cropland, reduce the environmental impact of industrial transportation across states and continents, and encourage consumption of fruits and vegetables. Using this garden, they will know their own impact and be motivated to reduce it before they reach junior high. These young girls and boys will become healthy, driven, informed caretakers of the natural world.
Date: December 15, 2013 Views: 7722 File size: 21.9kb, 277.5kb : 480 x 640
Hours Volunteered: 80
Volunteers: 10
Authors Age & Age Range of Volunteers: 16 & 10 to 65
Area Restored for Native Wildlife (hectares): 0.2
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