Crestwood´s Learning Garden began in February of 2014 with four vegetable garden beds and one flower bed. Our garden beds are raised beds that are great for gardening but present some challenges in the area of water conservation. The raised garden beds encourage drainage so that the roots of the plants do not rot. However, since we live in a dry environment, our gardens do not necessarily need additional drainage. Although they make it easier for garden tending for children, they are not the most water friendly for our desert.
Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for all living things around us.
– Jane Goodall
In an effort to enhance our learning garden so that it harnesses energy in the most careful way, we are expanding our garden to include permaculture elements. Permaculture is a way of designing living spaces to carefully use energies. It is about allowing energies such as water, wind and air, sunlight, and compostable materials to cycle so that may be used completely without waste.
Since we live in a desert that receives less than 5 inches of rain per year, we need to create garden spaces that cycle the water in our environment. We began to look at methods of farming that have been used in the Mojave Desert.
Sunken beds have been used in the Mojave Desert by native people for many hundreds of years. This fall we will be installing two sunken garden beds that allow the earth to collect and store water. These beds will be dug into the ground instead of sitting on top of the ground. One will use a water-efficient drip irrigation system. The other will use ollas to water the plants. Ollas are terracotta clay pots that are dug and buried underground. They are made from a clay material that seeps or releases water into the soil when it is dry. The ollas only release water when the plants need it. Ollas need to be within one foot of the plants they feed so we will need to make and install several ollas. We also hope to harvest rainwater by catching rainwater from the roofs of our school buildings into barrels. We will then cycle that water directly in our garden.
Protecting Our Planet
We hope our garden can be a place where students, teachers, and parents can learn about how to grow our own food as well as how to protect our environment. We hope to create an environment that mimics nature so that we can learn about how to best protect the health of our planet.
The great scientist, primatologist, and conservationist, Jane Goodall said, ¨Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference. Each one of us must take responsibility for our own lives, and above all, show respect and love for all living things around us.¨ This means that small acts such as catching a bit of rain can help preserve our environment. We hope our small garden can help too!