Expanding Education and Outreach at the UW Farm

Project Size: Large, >$1,000
Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $9,500

Letter of Intent:

Statement of Need: 

The mission of the UW Farm is to “be the campus center for the practice and study of urban agriculture and sustainability, and an educational, community-oriented resource for people who want to learn about building productive and sustainable urban landscapes.”  As the UW Farm and its reputation has grown in recent years, the number of requests for educational tours and field trips from local schools has increased.  

Currently school field trips are carried out in the garden beds that are devoted to food production. While the interactive component of field trips is vital to student engagement and essential for assimilation of new skills and knowledge, it is not sustainable to have large numbers of children sowing and harvesting in the Farm’s production beds without adversely impacting the Farm’s production.  Increased demand for field trips coupled with the desire to offer rigorous, curriculum-driven field trips with engaging and interactive educational activities creates the need for a formal education and outreach program at the Farm.

 

Proposed Solution: 

To meet the need for educational programming, without negatively impacting current production rates, we propose to expand the UW Farm by creating a new series of garden beds that are set aside for the purpose of education.  This “Children’s Garden” will be separate from but near the existing production beds, providing a place where children and other visitors can implement what they observe on their tour of the production beds at the UW Farm. The Children’s Garden will consist of four 4’ x 10’ x 2 1/2” wheel chair accessible raised cedar beds.  The periphery of the Garden will be planted with fruit trees and berry bushes. Once the raised beds are built, they will be filled with soil and irrigated to survive the dry summer months when schools are not in session.  At the same time, a formal education and outreach program will be developed which will include creating logistical and administrative systems for organizing field trips, purchasing necessary supplies for educational activities, and developing curriculum.  

 

Partners and Student Involvement: 

The UW Farm education and outreach program is a close collaboration with UW Farm manager Sarah Geurkink, the student volunteers of the UW Farm, and the UW Botanic Garden (UWBG) education department. Construction of the Children’s Garden will also involve the King County Master Gardeners, who will provide a weekend workshop to UW student volunteers on the design and construction of raised garden beds. Participants of Seattle Youth Garden Works, an urban agriculture program providing job and life skills to homeless and underserved youth, will be invited to attend the workshops and help construct the Children’s Garden.  UW student volunteers working alongside UWBG educational staff will develop curriculum that is adaptable for different age ranges and different seasons. UW student volunteers will also take primary responsibility for leading school field trips, however, in order to ensure continuity and reliability, UWBG education staff will be available to provide back up support and lead field trips when needed.

 

Feasibility, Accountability & Sustainability:

 

The UW Farm and the UWBG have approved the proposed education program, delineated a site for the Children’s Garden, and committed education staff to help develop the Farm education program.   Currently there is more demand for school field trips than the Farm can sustain.  This demand has precipitated the need to create a Children’s Garden and to develop a formal educational and outreach program.

To ensure that the program is meeting school curriculum needs and offering a high quality program, the UWBG education staff is developing surveys to hand out to teachers after field trips to solicit feedback on their experience at the Farm.  The UWBG’s online field trip registration site, to which the UW Farm field trips will be added, tracks the number of field trips per year, the number of students per field trip, and volunteer hours.  In the short term, UWBG has committed the partial support of one of its education staff to help launch the education program. However, the objective is for it to be self-sustaining by 2017 when the support of the UWBG education staff position ends.  For this reason, a student intern is built into the budget to ease the transition to self-sufficiency. The student intern will work one quarter with UWBG staff to develop a self-sustaining system.  The following quarter the intern will work independently to implement the plan. Once the program is operating smoothly, the Farm education program will charge $7/student for field trips, which will cover the operating costs of the Farm’s education program. Between now and April, UWBG staff will pursue other sources of funding for the program (including the Sustainable Paths, University Sunrise Rotary Club and the PCC Community Grant).

 

Budget Estimate:

 

The total estimated budget for this project is $9,500.  Building the 4-raised beds is projected to cost $4000, which includes materials for the beds, soil, irrigation supplies and construction tools.  Seeds and plants including fruit trees, berry bushes, and herbs for the new beds and the perimeter of the Children’s Garden are projected to cost $520.   The basic supplies needed to establish the education program are projected to be $2,050, which includes tables and chairs, art supplies, children’s gardening tools and criminal background checks for volunteers who will be working with student groups.  Lastly, this budget includes two quarters of funding for a student intern in 2016/2017 (which will cost roughly $2,900). 

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Amy Hughes