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We are going to create a 50 minute long interactive presentation. We will share our story, and frequently ask the audience questions about their thoughts and experiences in doing environmental advocacy.
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This year we have made 4 trips to Nana Cardoon, one in the Fall and three this Spring. Our Spring trips were in April and May. We are looking at how nature changes with the seasons. One of our focuses this year was the role that soil plays in growing plants. Each visit we have done activities that help builds quality soil. As well as observing and exploring, we have planted potatoes and corn, and helped remove invasive English Ivy. We even learned to weave the ivy into baskets, making something useful from it. We have made various flat breads from grain grown at the farm, made tortilla of 3 colors of corn, made tabbouleh salad with dandelion greens, and short cake for a strawberry feast! We have explored changes in the garden, the role of pollinators, as well as methods of recycling, including vermiculture (worms). We also used the sun to cook delicious banana bread. Our visits have ended with a group meal, enjoying our food creations. The results have been tasty. For our final visit, we had a strawberry feast with cooked pound cake. This was our celebration of a successful year!
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Our project will clean up the school garden which has been left untouched for 2 years and fix the rampant weeds that continue to grow there.
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At bare minimum, the project will prove successful if local youth gain service-learning hours for installing the conservation garden in ways that spark meaningful prior Green School PTSA memorializing conversation and reflection. This success indicator is very reachable being that The Natural Roots Project’s (NRP’s) partner-organization, The Empowerment Center of Maryland, Inc, has agreed to both: a) host youth-preparatory sessions at their facility, and b) provide the 501c3 criteria necessary to grant service-learning credit. Furthermore, many Cherry Hill plot holders are elderly retirees, accustomed to seeing mainly food planted at their location. Thus, the conservation garden is likely to spark much curiosity, inquiry and conversation. The process of garden installation and community response will be documented via a youth coordinated video montage and short feedback surveys respectively.
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I have students create Power Point presentations to share what they've learned. We also complete pre and post tests after the field trips so we can collect data which tells us what the students have learned and why. I would use the grant money to buy plants for the garden. Parents and students help us maintain our garden. We also harvest our produce and make salads to share during our meetings.
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As part of our campaign, we will be contributing time to the weekly bbqs near the train tracks where many live in one of 2 tent cities. We will offer the mats for sitting (there's so much mud from intense weather) and the seed kits for planting in the community garden near the shelter. We will engage in conversation starting with, "What's your name?" We know that homeless people are rarely asked this basic human question. We will track how many people we connect with, creating humanity within our community. Having learned mapping at ESRI when I was with the NYLC, I am planning to show my group other homeless communities in the Capitol region that we need to reach out to. We will also create relationships with the youth by gardening together.
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We will complete this project during our parent engagement evening in September 2019. This project will give us the opportunity to include parents, as well as our students. This project will help sustain the work we completed this year.
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In the fall, we will dig a trench, fill it with maple logs from a tree that was cut down a couple of years ago, branches, etc. We will add composted leaves from our town, surround it with straw bales, and plant cover crops of winter rye and hairy vetch. In the spring, we will plant peas, which fix nitrogen, as well as being delicious. We would research other plants that would make sense for the area: maybe mushrooms, currants and blueberries. The result we would hope for would be good soil with lots of microorganism and edible plants for ourselves and the birds successfully grown from it. We would photograph it, and science classes could analyze the soil and micro-organisms. We would also use this as a demonstration of hugelkultur for students at all our schools and for the community - posting on a website and hosting visits.
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In the spring of 2020, we will do a full clean up. plant flowers, and ensure there are proper trash receptacles, including safe disposal of needles.
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The project will plant milkweed seeds in a location near the school. This garden will be cultivated throughout the warmer seasons in the hopes that butterflies will be able to rest and eat. Once the milkweed seeds are successfully grown, more plants such as rue, dill, and parsley will be introduced to attract a greater variety of butterflies.

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