Holmes garden grows produce and community engagement

In spite of its young age, the Holmes Elementary garden program is proving that green gardens are the best gardens.  Now celebrating its third year, the garden is a small but mighty force for good both at Holmes and within the Lincoln community.

According to Community Coordinator Mariella Resendiz Alvarado, the garden began as a partnership with a local church, Christ Lutheran, who wanted to start a growing space but didn’t have the room.  With land provided by Holmes and grant money provided by Christ Lutheran, a garden was born. “The first year, we put in as much as we could without knowing much about gardening.” says Alvarado. With help from Christ Lutheran volunteers, a dozen raised beds were installed along with a fence, tool shed, and drip irrigation system.

Inventory12 raised beds
 Fenced enclosure
 Drip irrigation system
 Compost pile

The humble garden yielded an impressive amount of produce in its first season.  Those fruits and vegetables were donated to People’s City Mission as well as to Nebraska Women, Infants, and Children.  These organizations were able to get the fresh food into the hands of families who needed it.

Now, the Holmes garden is helped along by Master Gardener Dianne Peterson.  Peterson, Alvarado, and church volunteers have been able to create a plan for after school programs to help maintain the garden.  This not only lends the hardworking volunteers a hand, but it also allows for impactful student engagement and learning in the garden.

The Family Service after school program at Fredstrom utilizes the garden the most, with classes visiting during school periodically through the week.  Through this time spent in the garden, students are learning about proper planting, tending, and harvesting procedures. Along with learning about gardens, students are learning how to have fun outdoors as well.  “It’s fun for them to get out and play in the dirt. When the veggies come out they love picking them, and they have had a great time trying new things,” Alvarado says.

Alvarado hopes the garden can grow to support learning and engagement through students’ families as well.  Recently, Holmes has involved families by establishing a summer watering program where students sign up to tend the garden for a week over summer break.  Eventually, the goal is to host more hands-on family garden activities to increase the number of families who could use produce from the gardens. This would allow students to not only learn about gardening both inside and outside of school, but also introduce them to wholesome and healthy food choices that could follow them through life.  

More than anything, Alvarado looks forward to the growth in the garden’s  future. “The people who have helped with it have stayed dedicated to the project, and it shows.  Each year we continue to get better and better at gardening,” she concludes.

Key PlayersSarah Jones, Christ Lutheran Church garden coordinator
 Dianne Peterson, Master Gardener
 Mariella Resendiz Alvarado, Former Community Coordinator