Community garden at Buena Vista set to start March 1

       A community garden is not far off now for Buena Vista Elementary, 1620 W. Bijou St.
       Although an exact size and location, as well as final school district approval, are not quite finalized, the plan is to start putting in the garden's raised beds March 1, according to Principal Jade Amick.
       In the meantime, with support from school staff, several parents have formed a Garden Club and are fund-raising, seeking donations and offering garden plots to the community.
       About a dozen students are in the club right now. During a get-acquainted exercise at the start of a recent meeting, parent Elise Miller asked each to give a reason for helping with the garden before tossing a ball of yarn to another student. Some of the responses were:
       “I want to learn about spiders.”
       “I want to see bees make honey.”
       “I want to see how a venus flytrap eats flies.”
       “I want to learn about compost.”
       “I want stuff to eat.”
       A fund-raising effort that's taking place through Feb. 22 allows people to purchase organic coffee, tea and chocolate from small-scale farmers in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Caribbean, with the club getting to keep 45 percent of the profits. “We thought this would be an excellent way to help fund the garden project, keeping in line with the ethic of sustainability, while helping farmers all over the world who grow this food in an ecological way,” Miller said.
       Current garden needs include tools, topsoil, books and wheelbarrows. Grants have been applied for also. Some donations that have already come in include wood for the beds, fertilizer and seeds, plus consultation from the Pikes Peak Urban Gardens. Two parents, Hillary Studebaker and Sarah Hope, raised money through a concert with their band, named Edith Makes a Paper Chain.
       The plan, part of a long-range effort to spruce up the school's large “backyard,” is for the garden to keep going through the summer, even when school is out. Studebaker and Hope have volunteered to oversee the maintenance during this time.
       Plans are also being worked up for a small greenhouse, with hopes of having it in place during the 2008-09 school year.
       “It's turning out to be wonderful project,” Amick said. She sees the garden as a learning experience that will eventually involve class projects and possibly even a “farmers' market” at the school, selling garden produce.

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