This story is long overdue. The truth is that the story actually started during a conversation I had over lunch with my good friend Jan Sansom about two and a half years ago. Jan had met with me to discuss Project Sweet Tomato and how she might be able to help. She was going to introduce me to some potential sponsors as well as offer a few suggestions for how to make the program better. It was just as I bit into my Turkey Club sandwich, she asked me had I ever heard of John R. King Academy? Mmpfh…Smack…Ah…Er…No…Munch…Mmphf! The Bread Basket Deli makes very big sandwiches you know. So even the smallest bites can be quite a mouthful. Jan continued to say that she volunteers at the school and she thought it would be good school to work with. Unfortunately we had that conversation too late in the summer to do any good so John R. King was tabled until the next year.
The following year I did manage to get through to the powers-that-be only to be told that they had already planted their garden and at that point there was nothing I could add to their program or gardening experience. Fortunately at the beginning of the 2012-2013 semester I was contacted by Mrs. Gwen Bouler and the timing was right, she and the school were on board and we were ready to roll.
After several phone conversations and emails, my sister Jenni and I went over to the school to check it out. We had been told that there was a greenhouse and our first assignment was to access its viability as a resource. Though it had not been in use for an untold amount of years, we felt that with a little work it could definitely be used to good effect.
Our next step was to get them some supplies so that they could start growing plants indoors when the time was right. Due to the graciousness of one Ms. June Axelrad, we were able to get them some sizeable pots that they could plant seeds in. We also gave them some seeds to get started with.
To top it off we encouraged them to join the Garden Resource Program (GRP), which is now known as Keep Growing Detroit. I directed them to contact Lindsay Pielack to establish their membership, setting them up to be able to use the resources that the organization provides.
Not too long after we had met John R. King filed to be included in the School Garden Collaborative (SGC). The collaborative is a program that consists of 45 Detroit public school where the students are taught the basics of gardening while growing vegetables used in each school’s cafeteria. Students are to be exposed to nutrition, agricultural and horticultural lessons/programs. There will be more on the School Garden Collaborative later.
I want to thank Mrs. Bouler and the senior administration of Principal Vivian Hughes-Norde and Vice Principal Byron Tims for becoming a member of the Project Sweet Tomato family. I am very impressed by the school; it’s students, staff, teachers and administration. It takes vision, spirit and love for the community to bring all of the components together to have a successful school/community garden and I am confident that this group has the drive and motivation to make this work. I look forward to doing whatever I can to support them on an ongoing basis.
- You: School gardens in Bell Gardens feed a community (latimes.com)
- Community garden takes root (modbee.com)
- Garden-in-a-Box: Kids are happy to eat vegetables when they’ve grown their own (tcdailyplanet.net)
- Young Adults Plant Seeds of Their Futures by Tending Garden (kstp.com)
- Welcome (johnrkingacademicperformingartsacademy.wordpress.com)