The new collaboration provides green-thumbed residents with a space to grow plants and vegetables, while also giving students real-life gardening experience.
Lydia Martinez, a parent coordinator at the school, initially brought the two groups together after hearing the Ridgewood Community Garden was looking for a new space. They were recently evicted from their old spot under the M train by the MTA.
Meanwhile, the teacher that oversaw the gardens at Grover Cleveland High School left the school last year, and Martinez saw a perfect opportunity.
“Our gardens were going to waste,” she said. “So when Ridgewood Community Garden lost its garden, I figured maybe they could help us bring our gardens back.”
Right now, only students that take plant science with teacher Varda Verstandig are utilizing the space, but the hope is that eventually all the science classes will be able to use it a resource.
Verstandig said the process of populating the garden for the spring season begins in the classroom. The students cultivate seedlings and then bring them out to the garden. Many of the plants grown in the garden were on sale during the space’s spring opening on May 8.
“The program is wonderful,” Verstandig said. “The students have an opportunity to work with the plants itself, to work the ground, to learn sustainability and responsibility and to learn how to be members of society. Some of them may decide to go into horticulture later in life.”
The garden is difficult for the students and school to manage alone – especially in the summer – which is where the partnership with the Ridgewood Community Garden comes in.
“They’re actually working the land,” Martinez explained. “And they also come and teach our students.”
The Ridgewood Community Garden searched for a new space for about a year. In the end, they not only found a new space, but a partner.
“We share the space with the school and we also plan initiatives together,” said gardener Sana Garner.
On Sunday, one of the volunteers was leading a sub-irrigation workshop that will eventually be taught to the students.
Garner, a design architect by trade, hopes to partner with students to create benches and furniture for the garden.
“That would be a great way to get the students engaged and involved,” she said.