A Piece of the Pie

Just a peek into new programs at our new location and how YOU can help. 

Garden Gnome Jr.

An opportunity to learn how the Earth provides

Seeds of Grace has been given a building – exactly the building we need to achieve what we have been dreaming of doing for two years now: Teach children about how symbiotic relationships make the world go round.

Our plan is to create an environment of experiential learning in a three-day per week after school and summer program as well as a one week intensive summer camp.

Both of the programs, called Garden Gnome Jr., will teach kids about many subjects, including:

•Aguaponics: How plants and animals get along – Biology. How pH balance, Nitrate, Nitrite, O2, and NH4 are naturally maintained – Chemistry. How plants live on fish waste, fish live on worms, worms live on compost and compost comes from food – Environment.

•Gardening: How kids can grow their own food at home. How to use permaculture systems and companion planting to avoid the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides. How to start seeds, cultivate soil to get the best harvest. How and when to harvest what they have grown. How to save seeds from the productive plants to ensure the best garden next year.

•Nutrition: How food grown organically has higher amounts and quality of nutrients. How to use foods to compliment each other and achieve whole proteins from just vegetables that are grown. How to cook foods so that they don’t lose their nutritional value.

•Service: Kids will learn that not only will they benefit from the work of their hands, but their neighbors will also. Food harvested that is not taken or used by the students will be delivered to one of the local food banks

•Business: Hierarchy of leadership will be established – president, vice president, secretary, treasurer with emphasis placed on collaborative leadership styles, but helping students embrace. Students will be encouraged to find a way to sustain their program, whether by selling starts or seeds, or whole aguaponic systems that they can install and train the new owners on. They will be given opportunities to research marketing and methods for best practices for doing the business. Best practices for bookkeeping will be taught and exercised. Good stewardship will be encouraged throughout the program

•Mentoring: Students will be encouraged to work together, mentoring each other – younger to older and older to younger. They will be in an environment where we show by example, the following methodology: You Watch – I Do; You Help – I Do; You Do – I Help; You Do – I Watch. We will empower students to take ownership of their learning by their teaching one another, with only guidance, questions and examples by the team leads in the program.

The difference between the Garden Gnome program and what they have at school is in this program, students are encouraged to learn through experience. The whole space is their learning center. We have segments of hands-on skills, with the opportunity to research on computers and build models and mock-ups of their ideas. We will offer them time to be outside, working either in our hoop house or outdoor garden, or they will have the opportunity to research ways to improve the system already in place – offer suggestions and even make those changes with the blessing of the team.

In this program, students will be encouraged to fail – it’s only fish – its only seeds – They will be taught that failure is not a bad word – that failure is simply a stepping stone to bigger and better things. All of this will be presented from a position of love. When we can show our children – ALL children that we love them, they will make a POSITIVE difference in the world.

This program has already gone through a test, which was deemed successful by the participants, aged 9 – 17. In 2016, we invited 9 students to come to our headquarters located at 865 6th Street in Bremerton and build our initial aguaponics system. None of them knew the meaning of the word, but through providing them with the tools to research (a computer), and asking a few leading questions, they were able to define aguaponics and provide options as to how they wanted their system to look – instant ownership!

This program will benefit ANY school-age student that wants to participate (until we reach capacity), from ANY school district. The after-school program will be offered three days per week for 2 – 3 hours each day to start. The summer camp workshop will be 5 days each 7 hours long. Tuition for both programs has yet to be determined.

Program needs:

We will require computers and workspaces which are portable. We will also require shelving and storage. Our new location will require minor upgrades to bring it up to code, as well as building interior office space, for which we have teams of businesses volunteering their time and licensure, but we will need the materials to actually do the work. We will require tables and chairs (which will also be used for other programs). We will require basic school supplies: pencils, paper, rulers, erasers, whiteboards, easels, and other general class materials. We will need a couple of software programs to help the students with garden design, aguaponic system design, bookkeeping, and marketing. These we mostly already have, but will have to pay additional licensure fees for additional computers.

We would love to offer a stipend to our team members who will take charge of this program. The amount of time and energy that will go into the planning, curriculum building, and actual oversight will be prohibitive to many unless there is compensation. These team members are already ongoing volunteers of Seeds of Grace and know our systems well – but are maxed out on the time they can give without compensation. They will still likely volunteer well over 50% of their time even when they are compensated.

The aguaponic systems will be built from the ground up by the students with a grant that we hope to receive from First Federal Community Foundation. The gardens outside will be a community volunteer effort modeled after our ongoing programs.

We are obviously still developing this as a program, but the best part about that is, YOUR input will help shape it – which means that together we will build a program that will impact our youth in ways we NEVER dreamed!!!

If you are interested in joining the Seeds of Grace team in ANY capacity, please click THIS LINK and complete the form, so we can get the ball rolling – Also, let us know WHICH open house you will be coming to – Let’s start talking!

One more thing - We can't do any of this without YOUR help! Won't you please consider becoming a Perennial Partner? Giving just $10 per month will do WONDERS for all of our Junior Garden Gnomes.

Karole JohnsonComment