Hoonah City School Garden Initiative

Posted by ARRA Funds - OASH on 07/15/2015

The Hoonah City School (Hoonah, AK)

Project Lead: Mackensey Cassidy 

The Hoonah City School used the funds to start a school-based gardening program. The project put in a vegetable garden at the Hoonah City School and used this to teach children about the ecosystem and how to cook with the vegetables. The funds were also used to repair an existing greenhouse. The students planted and harvested the vegetables. Once harvested, cooking class occurred weekly to show students preparation and preservation techniques.

In an isolated community without access to fresh vegetables, community members and students have been greatly impacted by the skills learned to grow one's own food. Some children who weren’t normally engaged with school wanted to stay after school to help with garden and four or five different families started their own gardens at home.  The garden gave people confidence to garden on their own.

In the community of Hoonah people have begun eating new foods, learning how to prepare new foods, and learning the importance of eating fruits and vegetables. We have sustained this project in many ways. Some of the plants have been given to the local Salvation Army to start a garden there. Starter plants have been provided to interested community members. The school superintendent and Tribal leaders are committed to continuing the project.

I have also learned a lot from this project. My advice to others interested in school-garden projects are 1) Plant A LOT of plants, we could have used many more plants as there was great interest and need for fresh vegetables 2) I would have planted mostly vegetables that require little to no preparation: I found the carrots, peas, radishes, etc. were eaten most because students could grab them and go. 3) Increase signage - I would have hung up more signs around the garden to make it a bit more visible to community members who maybe were just walking by to catch glance of it. By the end of the summer the garden was a bit hidden due to other plants growing around it. 4) Incorporate time into your school day - I would have had a home economics class, or culinary arts class built into my schedule to allow for MORE TIME!! That was my biggest issue...finding time to harvest and cook with the students.