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The community garden at North Arvada Middle School has been a goal for more than two years. Now, with the help of several grants and community volunteers, the garden will come to life in May for this year’s gardening season.
“We wanted a garden because it’s a way to help build the community,” said Jennifer Alford, vice president of the school’s PTA and chair of the community garden committee. “Middle school is traditionally a really scary place. The neighbors don’t like middle school kids and the kids are scared to come to middle school. Instead, we wanted to make this a hub for the community, a place where the community can come in and engage with the kids.”
The gardens will be part of an elective gardening class and students also will be able to sell produce at a community farm stand. And leftover produce will be used in the home economics class, which has had to purchase food in the past.
The 34-plot garden will be shared with the school, at 7285 Pierce St., and the community. The school will have three to five plots, the Jeffco Indian Education program will have one plot and Vista Church, which has been instrumental in preparing the garden, will have one plot. All other plots will be open to the community on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Vista Church congregation started meeting at North Arvada Middle in March and has since become heavily involved with outreach at the school. Church volunteers scattered throughout the soon-to-be garden March 28 during a workday.
“We don’t want to just use the space, we want to make a difference as well,” said Brandon Hoover, pastor at Vista Church. “Seventy percent of our church lives in Arvada and so we wanted to invest in the community where we are at as a church.”
Grants totaling $2,700 from the City of Arvada, Jeffco Healthy Schools and the Colorado Garden Foundation have also helped the garden come to life. But Alford said another $7,000 is still needed to finish the project.
The garden is also a partnership with Denver Urban Gardens (DUG), a nonprofit that offers neighborhoods the essential resources for community gardens. DUG operates more than 170 community gardens throughout Metro Denver, including more than 40 school-based community gardens.
At North Arvada Middle, DUG helped design the garden, scraped the area and added irrigation. With the help of community and other volunteer groups, DUG volunteers are starting to add infrastructure.
“We’ve been working with the school from the beginning, designing it, and now were actually building it,” said Nessa Mogharreban, manager of construction volunteers for Denver Urban Gardens. “A few more workdays and this will be built in time for gardening season in May.”
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