The garden was founded to provide an educational and fun experience for students. This gives them an appreciation of nature and an opportunity to study the outdoors. The volunteering aspect of the garden teaches the students responsibility, and it is a great experience for kids and adults alike. Go to the "Volunteering" tab if you are interested in helping make the garden dream come true.
Q1: Why was the garden started?
Amanda - The idea for the Garden was two-fold. The intention was that it would be a place for reflection and beauty, as well as an outdoor learning environment.
Has your original goal for it been met?
Jen - We hope so! But we love to hear how students are enjoying the garden during recess, after school, and mini courses that use the space We are still working with the kindergarteners each year to plant the flower beds and exploring new ways we can use the garden.
Q2: What is your favorite plant/aspect of the garden?
I think My favorite was the artichokes we did in 2016 growing season.
I love so many! I love that we grew some of the zinnia flowers from seed and have been exploring unusual plants like the giant zucca gourd and the glass gem corn. My favorite to eat is the garlic.
Q3: How can/does it help with our education?
Gardens can be a wealth of information. Did you know the same microbes that humans have evolved with for millennia can be found in the soil and are beneficial to our minds and bodies, specifically in reduction to digestive problems as well as mental stress? Gardens give people a place to exercise problem solving skills. Gardens teach botany and micro-environments on a very personal level. We can study life cycles and heredity through seed harvesting for the next growing season. The best feature of vegetable gardening as an educational experience is that learning to grow food means you can always be sustainable.
Q4: Can both parents and children help?
The Challenge Learning Garden is working to grow in our Challenge Community. Many parents help by donating their time to water the garden and both kids and parents are involved in our garden work days. In the Spring, we have a “Garden Group” that kids and parents can join together to plan the garden, grow seedlings for transplanting and even plant a Spring “Salad” garden!
Q5: Do you have any gardening tips?
My very best advice is that you need to mulch your garden with a straw or garden ‘waste’, like leaves or grass clippings. Mulch reduces your need to weed. Most plants that our culture identifies as a weed, germinates by light. Covering the top two inches of your plant beds with mulch gives these seeds less light and most of the time inhibits a strong root growth. Water in our climate is very precious. Mulch keeps the soil moist for longer periods.
The best gardening tip I can give is that gardening is best learned through experience. Working in the garden one year will help you understand what works and what doesn’t work. The Challenge Learning Garden brings experienced gardeners and newbies to learn together. I learn something new every time I’m in the garden!
Q6: How has being on the committee helped you be a part of the Challenge community?
Working with families at Challenge Learning Garden allows me the privilege to get to know other families, but especially the kids. I love knowing Challenge kids. They are always interesting.
I love that the Challenge Learning Garden is a group for parents and kids together. I think working in the garden has given me an opportunity to be a part of the Challenge community doing something that I love.
Q7: Where do the crops go after harvest?
In the bellies of the garden members, Challenge families (at the fall festival) and some squirrels. As we move in new directions with the interests of the garden group members, this may expand to donating to food banks and those in need of fresh vegetables.
Q8: How is the garden funded?
We are funded through the kind donations of the Challenge community, members of the garden group, and some help from local businesses. We have an annual fundraiser at the Fall Festival each year. Some years this is the Pumpkin sale and Pumpkin Chunkin. We also ask for donations for harvesting your own veggies and herbs at the Fall Festival.
Q9: How have the students been involved with maintaining the garden/garden projects?
The students have been involved in all areas of the garden through the garden group. However, we hope to increase student involvement through class projects, soil testing, working with the seedlings, website design ;), and planning what to grow in the future.
Q10: What are your future plans for the garden?
There is always something to do in the garden! We hope to increase our signage, work on plans for irrigation, get more involved in classroom projects and mini courses and more. We would like to continue growing interesting plants, experimenting and helping others learn about gardening! Our ultimate goal is always to get more kids enjoying the garden and providing an opportunity to learn more about gardening and where our food comes from.
9659 E. Mississippi Ave.
Denver, CO 80247