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Anna Warntjes' Fundraiser:

Crater Renaissance Academy Land Lab School Garden

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BENEFITING:

Anna Warntjes

THE STORY:

The Crater Renaissance Academy of Arts and Science features block classes which are theme-based. Each of these small learning communities has a blend of 10th and 11th grade students. Students earn their English and Social Studies core credits while looking at the world through the lens of an elective which drives the theme of the course. The curriculum focuses on different regions of the world, but covers all continents in a two-year loop. The block class that we team-teach has an environmental science theme and is held two miles away from the Crater High School main campus at a facility called the “Land Lab”. The historical name of this program is Rogue Studies because a portion of our academic studies is devoted to exploring and studying the Rogue Valley. Each year we look at regions of the world and connect students to the history, culture and the natural environment of the places we study. We are also continuously comparing them to our own environment. We are fortunate to have Bear Creek (a tributary of the Rogue River), two man-made wetland ponds, and a significant amount of open, but under-utilized land at our land lab facility. Annual activities include water, soil, and air quality analysis as well as macro invertebrate sampling, riparian restoration and field-based research to several locations in our watershed. Students feel a connection to our watershed, but there has always been a gap when it comes to the bare fields surrounding our classroom. Five years ago we did an experimental gardening project with our 9th grade class, and it was a project that they talked about and remembered for the rest of their high school experience. We’ve had an itch to build a real garden, but it has taken several years for the project vision and community connections to solidify. We are committed and prepared to fill the garden gap!
The proposed project is to develop school gardens that have a World Cultural Theme. We will create 6 unique garden spaces that feature the primary food sources of the continents we study: Africa, Middle East, Europe, Asia, South America, and North America. The gardens will have a central forest (a cluster of trees that bear nuts or fruits) and will also sustain symbiotic vegetables and grain species that are representative of those that actually grow in each region/climate zone of the world. Emphasis will be placed on crops that historically and culturally sustain the people. The gardens will be logically arranged, will be beautiful to visit, and will serve a function as a source of healthy and sustainable food yields. Students will be responsible for all phases of the project, including research and design, construction of gardens and educational signs, engineering authentic irrigation systems, procurement and planting of crops, as well as harvesting of fruits/vegetables/seeds and meal preparation. This project may be implemented over a two-year loop, but will become a permanent component of our program curriculum.
Partnerships have been established over the past 7 years of the Environmental Science program. The community, parents and local businesses are very supportive of the school and will be able to donate a significant portion of materials and expert advice. What has always been a barrier to large scale projects is sustainability. Smaller projects have been completed or attempted at our facility, but have ended when grant funding has ended. Our goal with this gardening project is to do it right and high quality the first time, so it withstands the test of time.

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