Community Teaching Garden

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The purpose and mission of the Community Teaching Garden sponsored by the Indian Lake Community Association (ILCA) is to provide local and global opportunities to create awareness concerning the impact of water and food insecurity and its impact on land use in the context of climate change. At this time, our organization is reaching out to other local organizations and businesses in an effort to acquire funding to help with the development and growth of our Community Teaching Garden in an effort to promote local and global awareness and give back to the Worcester Community.

In partnership with the Worcester Public Schools and the Central Massachusetts Collaborative, we have developed a curriculum meeting the requirements of the Department of Elementary and Secondary - Vocational Technical Education Frameworks with a focus on the Agricultural and Natural Resource Cluster. This curriculum is intended to be incorporated to provide both educational and vocational  opportunities within school electives as well as after-school programs. By partnering with a local Rotary Club, we will explore international connections allowing students to collaborate with a sister Community Teaching Garden in a third-world developing country along with youth their who are addressing the issue of food and water insecurity and land use as well. This model will help in the development of creating youthful global citizens and presenting them with opportunities for youth exchanges between the sister Community Teaching Gardens.

The produce from the ILCA Community Teaching Garden will be given to local school-aged children and their families, senior citizens, and veterans who do not have access or means to fresh, healthy vegetables.

The location of the garden is 68 West Boylston Drive, on land owned by the Department of Transportation. Located at this site was the former West Boylston Street School. In recent years, the site had become a visible eyesore to the community — a 40-year-old metal barrier wall which was in a complete state of disrepair, land was filled with dense vegetation, overgrowth and trees which had not been maintained and were in dangerous condition.


ILCA led a community effort to partner with the DOT and community partners to rehabilitate the site by removing and replacing the barrier wall and removing all of the overgrown vegetation and damaged trees. New trees, shrubs and plants were installed,  creating a fresh and vibrant  community space. The garden will be organized and managed by the Indian Lake Community Association. 

Mission

Our mission is to build a healthy, connected community by working in cooperation with the  Worcester Project Public Schools Department to provide a living laboratory where students can  learn about horticulture, plant science, biodiversity, food and water insecurity and their impact  on land use in the context of climate change and how they can become agents of change with  goal of becoming youthful global citizens.

Goals

  1. Develop a vibrant interactive, intergenerational community space

  2. Literacy advocacy / Little Free Library

  3. Food insecurity intervention / Blessing Box

  4. Promotion of art & local artist / murals & art installations 

vision

Our vision is to develop a community resource that will serve as a living laboratory to address  food justice, climate change awareness and advocacy and encourage environmental  stewardship.

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How it will be accomplished

The Community Teaching Garden Literacy Project curriculum will be developed by educators  from the Forest Grove Middle School and community partners including the Regional  Environmental Council, and Tower Hill Botanical Gardens. Operation and maintenance of the  garden will be performed by the Indian Lake Community Association, Inc. and community  volunteers. The garden and surrounding space will a central gathering for community members  and will include a Little Free Library which will contain books and materials relevant to all age  groups to inform and create understanding about topics such as land and water use, climate change, and food justice.

Their will be book themed, artistically created benches outside of the fence of the garden for  community members to engage with each other as well as interacting with gardeners. The  fence surrounding the garden will be decorated with visual art by local artists and students,  who will also create murals on 2 near by highway retaining walls. The themes for the murals will  be a historical replication of the neighborhood in which the garden is located on West Boylston  Drive prior to the taking of homes and land to create 190, and also the history, culture and  diversity of Worcester.

The garden will also feature a Blessing Box outside the fence. A Blessing Box is a free food  pantry where neighbors in need can obtain emergency food supplies. There will also be a community board on site where community members can view the coordination and  scheduling of garden operations, programming and community events.  This garden is being created in partnership with two sister Community Teaching Gardens, one  located in Kenya and one in South Africa. The students will have the opportunity to interact  virtually with fellow students in these countries, with the goal of cultural youth exchanges which will aid in the development youthful global citizens.

Garden Layout and Structures

The garden dimensions will be approximately 122’x 36’. There will be (20) 5’x 10’ or (20) 4’ x 8’ raised bed planters roughly 12” high,  with some being 30” high to accommodate volunteers with functional restrictions such as bending over. The garden will be fenced-in with a 5’ fence,  4’ above grade and 1’ below grade to prevent animal intrusion. The paths between the planter boxes will be either wood chips or stone dust. The intent of the pathway material is to provide accessible routes around the garden and to prevent weed growth. The other structures to be placed in the garden include a tool shed, a composter, and 2 round, shaded picnic tables. Outside of the garden will be  4 sitting benches; this is a community space and we want to encourage community participation by providing sitting areas outside of the garden to  encourage and welcome community members to view and enjoy  the space.

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Gardening Activities

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Upon initial garden construction, the general activities and work will consist of spring garden preparation and planting, weeding and cultivation work, harvesting produce, and Fall cleanup. The garden will be available for volunteer work on a set schedule to be determined via a volunteer survey. This structure will be modeled after the Community Food Collaborative  Community Garden in Sturbridge, MA. The Sturbridge CFC garden is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 5:00-6:30 pm  and also on Sunday from 10:00 am -12:30 pm. Outside of set hours, our  garden will be locked. Volunteers will only be allowed in the garden under the supervision of a representative of the Indian Lake Community Association.

In the Fall, all plant material will be removed from the planting beds and disposed of in the designated composting area. In the Winter, the garden will be closed and the gates will remain locked until Spring.

Adding a “Little Free Library” to the Community Teaching Garden

To enhance our Community Teaching Garden, we anticipate adding a “Little Free Library”. A Little Free Library consists of a small, enclosed container which can be attached to a stand or structure and where books are placed for the use of community members to share, exchange, and return free of charge. ILCA has viewed the regulations for beginning one of these nationally-known community support systems and would like to have one added for the use of the Community Teaching Garden members and neighboring families and visitors.

In a Little Free Library, donated books are placed for the free use, viewing, and sharing of local citizens with the double intention of increasing literacy and, in our particular case,  to educate people from young to old about topics of interest relating to such relevant issues as food and water insecurity, ecology, global warming,  learning how to plant and grow vegetables to share within the community, and ultimately the need to be a global citizen who is aware not of just of the needs of their own community but throughout the world as a whole.

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Needed Supplies

Phase 2- Anticipated planting date: April 2022

- 20 raised bed garden beds
- Soil
- Solar drip irrigation system (1)
- Tool shed (1)
- Composter (1)
- Fencing, Vinyl coated 122 x 36 ?
- Book themed sitting bench (1)
- ILCA Logo sitting bench (1)
- Buddy Bench (1)
- Picnic tables with umbrellas (2)
- Water service funding
- Garden Manager
- Community members
- Sponsors
- Funding

Covid-19 and Little free library

ILCA intends to comply with all mandatory National and MA State regulations regarding the safe use and operation of all materials and structures related to the Little Free Library.

Community Board

The community board will be a weather proof, plexiglass notification board that will post safe use and operation of both the Community Teaching Garden and The Little Free Library. As well as monthly reading themes for the Library and information about community events and activities.

The Indian Lake Community Association appreciates your interest in helping our students and community develop the Community Teaching Garden. Any contribution to this effort will create countless vocational and educational opportunities, while also giving back to the community. Please feel free to reach out to Carl Gomes at (508)450-3374 with any questions concerning this proposal.