Garden in Grace
“Our produce helps feed ten families each week.”
For her Culminating Leadership Project, Katherine decided to further develop the garden she had started prior to coming to the Alzar School. On the empty lot across the street from her church, Grace Memorial, located in downtown Hammond, Louisiana, she had started a community garden, growing several different types of vegetables, herbs, and flowers. The produce grown was intended to go to the members of her church congregation. The main problem with her garden was that not enough members took advantage of the harvest, and therefore lots went to waste. After the first summer, the plot was virtually untouched and unthought-of in Katherine’s vision of a “community garden” need to be reworked.
“Through the Alzar School’s “10 Elements of Leadership,” I was able to look back and rethink what needed to be done to ensure my garden’s success for many seasons to come.”
Implementation of Project
In designing her CLP, Katherine sought to address two issues: who would benefit from the produce grown and who would continue “Garden In Grace”once she left for college. Katherine built a relationship with Our Daily Bread, Hammond’s local food bank, which was very excited about the garden and thought it would be perfect for supplying produce for their emergency food boxes. Next, Katherine connected with an AmeriCorps volunteer Jason Granger, who would become a key action team member and who would take over the garden as she left for college this fall. With two major issues tackled, Katherine was ready to go to work on the plot.Katherine had to get the garden in growing shape. To do this, she organized a series of three action days. To recruit her action team, Katherine contacted approximately thirty people, ultimately bringing together five hardworking volunteers. The garden was untouched for six months, so the team had their work cut out for them. First, they cleared and uprooted the last year’s produce, then weeded and raked the entire area. They reshaped, fertilized, and laid plastic for all of the rows. Finally, they planted okra, string beans, cabbage, green bell pepper, purple bell pepper, banana peppers, squash, eggplant, slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and green onions. The “Garden in Grace” was composed of five 25′ rows and four 4′x8′ planter boxes.
“I tried to keep it fun and cool in the Louisiana heat with music, granola bars, and ice water. My first action team worked really hard and after three long hours I treated them to snowballs!”
Results of Project
At the end of the leadership project, Katherine had eleven people helping care for this community garden. The garden produced twelve different varieties of fresh, organic vegetables. It also brightened days with beautiful sunflowers, zinnias, and celosia grown at Grace Church.
“‘Garden In Grace’ has been great for Hammond! Our produce helps feed ten families each week.”
One of Katherine’s action team members, Jason will continue the efforts at the garden as she goes off to college. Katherine plans on taking her green thumb with her to the University of the South – Sewanee, where they already have a terrific garden supplying fresh produce to their university dining program. Katherine was also recently selected by the Alzar School’s Board of Directors to serve as an alumni representative to the school’s Advisory Committee.
“I hope to continue farming and leading my peers with the knowledge I gained at the Alzar School for years to come!”