More than a year and a half ago, Dr. David McDeavitt and I had a dream: to create a space on school grounds that would allow everyone from our community to come together, sleeves up, working and learning and growing. Public school, home school, or well beyond school-aged – it wouldn’t matter. This would be a place the whole community could call their own, a place to share and learn skills, knowledge, and perspective while raising healthy, delicious food for all to enjoy.
Tomorrow, May 15, the first phase of our school farm dream is finally coming to life, and we hope you’ll join us to celebrate! We don’t know what the weather will bring, but we are sure that spirits will be high as we cut the ribbon and officially open our fledgling farm to the community.
We’ve managed to raise just over $400 through our online crowdfunding campaign and an additional $450 directly from local businesses, and that – together with donations of supplies as well as time and labor from volunteers – has been enough to build the entire raised bed area, with 300 square feet of planting space, and start the woodland trail! I am so grateful for everyone’s support, and I would like to take a moment to thank those who have generously donated to this school farm project so far.
To the entire AC Valley School Board: without your belief in our efforts, and the permission to use two acres of school land, we would not have a project at all! I cannot thank you enough. To the individuals who have donated online, as well as Central Electric Co-op, Linmas Drugs, and Divani Chocolatier: your funds have gone directly to completing the toolshed and raised bed area and will allow our community farmers to grow a bumper crop for this year’s harvest.
A huge thank you to Warren Thomas of Baytree Farm, whose raised bed donation got this whole thing started, to Gibson Farm and Mirakai Farm for their donations of soil and lumber, and to the Krileys of Cherry Valley and the Hunts of Emlenton for their donations of seedlings. Together, your generosity cut our material costs in half for the raised bed area!
I certainly could not have gotten this far all by myself, so I want to give a very special thank you to those who donated their time and physical labor to helping this farm get off the ground. Rachel Brosnahan, Sarah Reynolds, Sara Buzard, Lisa McKenzie, Jarred Heuer, Eric Pedi, Matt Brosnahan, and Pat Kriley: you’ve hauled thousands of pounds of block, lumber, and dirt, forged a path through a jungle of brambles, cleared fallen trees, wrangled obstinate garden sheds, and been my brainstorming and troubleshooting team. Dr. McDeavitt and ACVSD’s Mark Milford and James Best: you have believed in this project and supported us every step of the way. YOU have made this all possible. Without all of you, there would be no farm. Much love and mad respect.
I want to thank all of you for believing in the power of community gardens, and anyone who would like to help or donate still can! Just go to ioby.org/project/ac-valley-school-farm to donate online, and we will have summer volunteer forms at the ribbon cutting. We still have more to build to completely finish Phase One, and there are two more phases to go before the school farm realizes its full potential. There’s plenty of work ahead of us, but we’ve made a strong start. I do hope you will join us at 1 p.m. on May 15 to see and celebrate the results!
Selina Pedi is the Oil Region Alliance redevelopment manager. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.