PIE Grant of the Month
Stories from the Field
Lincoln Northeast Community Garden
On May 11, a new community garden at Lincoln Northeast High School officially came to life! Students, teachers, and community partners installed and planted a host of new garden beds. The garden originally started as part of a project that cropped up during an English Language Learners’ reading of a beloved novella about community, diversity, growth, and acceptance.
Northeast Rocket ELL students conceived and organized the garden after reading Seedfolks, a 1997 short work by Paul Fleischmann. The novella follows a Vietnamese girl and a diverse group of immigrants who transform a vacant Cleveland city lot into a community garden with crops from each character’s home country. Along the way, they grow, reflect, and form lasting bonds.
Civic Nebraska’s Community Learning Center teamed up with the Northeast students to bring the project to the school. English Language Learner students designed the beds in their classes and have planned and designed what will be planted in each bed. On May 11, nearly forty students gathered with club leaders and staff to install, prepare, and plant four large raised garden beds at Lincoln Northeast High School. Students said their favorite parts of the installation were working as a team, learning more about urban gardens, and talking to students from different cultures!
Students selected what vegetables and herbs they intended to plant: sweet peppers, hot peppers, thyme, cilantro, chives, broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, basil, sage, cucumbers, corn, and several others. Many of the plants and vegetables may be used in recipes that students can share with their families.
In addition to experiencing how the garden will build community, students will examine how plants and ecosystems work together and will gain insight into pollination, composting, and germination, soil nutrients, and the water cycle. In addition to vegetables, students also planted two raised beds to act as a pollinator garden and to repel insects. Already the students have learned a tremendous amount about gardening through the planning and installation stages of the project, and they are excited and looking forward to the summer!
Several community partners joined the effort, including a University of Nebraska focus program called Food, Energy, Water and Societal Systems (or FEWSS, pronounced “fuse”) at Northeast that prepares students in the areas of food, energy, water, and societal systems. The Kiwanis of Northeast Lincoln and Decks Unlimited also donated significant labor, resources, and work space toward building the corrugated metal beds.
With the support from the Nebraska Academy of Sciences and the Nebraska Environmental Trust, projects like the Lincoln Northeast Community Garden are made possible. The garden will undoubtedly have long-lasting impacts on the students, families, and community for years to come.
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