Trenton Grows Educational Garden   (Trenton, NJ)
with 501(c)(3) Trenton Grows Inc., Victoria Covert
Client: International Academy of Trenton Charter School
Completed Spring 2018

With the nonprofit, youth-oriented community gardening organization Trenton Grows, we established a “Garden Club” for first- through fifth-grade students at an underperforming charter school in Trenton, New Jersey.  We held twice-weekly meetings with about 25 to 30 student volunteers between the ages of six and 12, with the intended goal to facilitate educational experiences in gardening, nutrition, and fitness.  With the help of the students, we collaboratively designed, built, and operated a small, temporary educational garden on the school’s grounds using mostly recycled materials and a budget of approximately $1,000.  Through this hands-on process, we introduced the students to every phase of the organic gardening process, from seed to harvest. 

The temporary garden, built on a vacant concrete lot, was composed of the following elements:

Oblique Axonometric Plan

00 P1840227-ClassGerminating seeds during our first Trenton Grows “Garden Club” meeting

01 P1840191-construct1-BeforeThe existing site (pre-garden), across the street from the pickup/drop-off entrance of the school

03 IMG_6675-construct3-tire-layoutA curvilinear snake of recycled tires spray-painted light colors to decrease thermal absorption (and thus preserve water), circumscribing an informal gathering space for Garden Club meetings; topsoil delivery in background; fertilizer bin not pictured

03-2 IMG_6703-Construct3-tire-plant“Garden Club” participants fill the tire planters with topsoil and fertilizer…

03-3 IMG_6752-construct3-2-tire-plantPlanting non-edible flower seeds and seedlings to aid in the local pollination ecosystem

04 IMG_6701-construct4-planter-layoutLeftover tires as exercise hurdles, also used as an impromptu seating area; ten unbleached canvas bags on a row of three tarp-covered standard-size shipping pallets (with tarp protecting plants from absorbing chemicals leached from treated pallet wood)…

04-2 IMG_9155-construct4-2-planter-fillFilled with topsoil and fertilizer…

04-3 IMG_6747-construct5-plantingPlanting and watering edible fruit and vegetable seedlings, including lettuce, swiss chard, collard greens, tomatoes, strawberries, and more

05 IMG_7067-HopscotchWeeding, watering, taking care of our garden, and playing hopscotch

06 IMG_2427-jody-armsCelebrating our successful harvest with friends and family

07 IMG_4443-aubrey-flowersA participant marvels at the “magic” that came from a simple handful of seeds, placed in soil, with plenty of water and sun

08 IMG_7111-GardenClubSaying goodbye, and sending participants home with the fruits of their labor

Unfortunately, the school closed permanently at the end of the 2017-’18 academic year

An endearing drawing given to us by a Garden Club participant