Garden-based Restoration and Outreach Workshops (GROW Program): An Introduction

April 19th, 2011 by Barbara Selemon

I am excited to announce that the UW Botanic Gardens received a grant from the Jiji Foundation that has made it possible for the Education staff at the Washington Park Arboretum to reach high school students, an audience currently underserved by our environmental education program.  Thanks to this generous gift this school year, the Garden-based Restoration and Outreach Workgroups (G.R.O.W.) Program was launched in January, 2011 and is actively engaged with three high school classes and one after school teen center program.

The Washington Park Arboretum conducts programs at the Arboretum through their Seedlings and Saplings Program for elementary and middle school students.   As a subset of the newly designed Spruce Program, which focuses on high-school learning, the G.R.O.W. program reaches out to students at their school in recognition that the high school schedule doesn’t allow much time for field trips.  Therefore, the program coordinator visits the school sites and works as a resource manager for each project in the making.

Currently, students in Jessica Torvik’s Horticulture/Ecology classes at Nathan Hale High School are involved in creating a farm to produce organic vegetables on a site surrounding their newly built greenhouse.   Susan Barth’s horticulture class at Nova High School is involved in enhancing a site next to their raised vegetable beds that will invite students to sit down and enjoy the sights and smells of the garden.  Students enlisted in Maggie Rose’s horticulture classes at Ingraham High School will be working on a storm water/rain garden installation at the Center for Urban Horticulture under the guidance of Lisa Haglund, who is utilizing this site as her senior project in completion of a degree in Community, Environment and Planning.  Garfield Teen Center is a public afterschool program that offers a variety of classes to teens, such as music composition and comic book illustration.  Students here will be planting a water farm indoors to grow vegetables for harvest and enjoyment.

As Program Coordinator, I visit each school group and work with them on an individualized plan to learn basic horticulture and specific knowledge related to their projects.   I act as a resource for them to help design and create their garden and to select the right plant for the right place.  Field trips are being planned to the Center for Urban Horticulture and the UW Farm on upper campus during which time the students will partake in a service project as well as tour the sites.   Meanwhile, students will be working on site assessments, soil analyses and plant selection and installation throughout the spring.  By mid-June, projects should be going strong or have had a very good beginning.

By Barbara Selemon

GROW Program Coordinator