Edible Schoolyard at APA – Work Day!

Thursday October 18th was the actual workday for the Phase 1 Edible Schoolyard installation at APA. We had about 35 volunteers from Post Properties, Hilton Hotels  and Chatham Landscaping come out and help with the install. The weather was perfect. A little rain in the morning loosened up the soil and the good weather held throughout the day. It was a great day to be outside.

I asked the AM-FFN staff who helped with the volunteers to summarize their reflections.  Their words appear below, but the pictures tell most of the story. Special thanks to Principal Lynnette Walker, Earl King and Tambria Peeples at APA and Linda Ricklef at Post Properties.  Also a big Thank You to all the volunteers. You made all of this a reality.

All photos by Lynne “Serwaa” Young, Kwabena Nkromo, or Brad Bell of Brad Bell Photography .

“Atlanta Metro Food & Farm Network is about connecting every day people to their food and the power to grow it themselves if they choose to do so. At no level of society is our work more important than with children’s families and schools. For me, the Edible Schoolyard we were able to help install at Atlanta Preparatory Academy is about more than just an attractive garden. It was about providing a ‘mustard seed’ of community change for the better, if the people have a mind to.” – Kwabena

Post Property volunteers @ the end of installation day

School gardener Stephanie and APA Board Member

Volunteers from Hilton Hotels

“Working with the Post and Chatham volunteers during the installation was a rewarding experience.  Our warm-up for the day was teaming up to place large stones around the perimeter of each curvy garden bed. Approaching the challenge like a jigsaw puzzle, I encouraged the volunteers to take their time with each stone’s placement.

We also planted all the edible and medicinal plants and shrubs, and the landscaping volunteer crew showed off their skills as the quickest planters around. I took the opportunity to show a small group of interested volunteers how to plant both transplants and seeds, taking care with the depth for each.

As the last push for the day, we set up temporary “compost corrals” from wire mesh to hold all our uprooted goodies in one place. The volunteers and I felt a real sense of accomplishment when looking around at all we’d built, planted, and mulched that day. I know APA’s edible schoolyard will be an amazing space for learning engagement of the arts, science, and math, and I’m thrilled to have participated in the installation.”  – Stephanie

Hilton volunteers in existing garden

Planting one of the beds

Post volunteers placing even more stones!

“Our group worked on the permaculture swale installation. Permaculture is a way of design which observes and then mimics ecological systems. In a permaculture design such as the garden design at APA, berms and swales are typically installed on slopes to prevent erosion and direct water flow to the roots of plants placed within the berm.

A swale in the making.

Partially complete with berm to left and rocks for drainage in excavation.

Post volunteers placing the finishing touches on the berm and swale

Other permaculture features of this design are the keyhole beds and the herb spiral.  The keyhole bed design maximizes the amount of edge along the outer perimeter of the bed. In our case children have access to the outer edge of bed while the adult teacher stands in the center of the keyhole.

The herb spiral allows herbs to be planted at various orientations to sun and shade and with various moisture levels. The top of the spiral is the driest, while the base remains the wettest. The Post volunteers said they had great fun, not only installing the garden but also learning more about some of these permaculture features.” – Serwaa

planted keyhole bed

Herb spiral rises ….

herb spiral completed

“One of the most exciting and sustainable features of APA’s edible school yard are the fruit trees. Why fruit trees? Fruit trees provide abundant food for decades and are low to no maintenance once established. Importantly they add aesthetics, remove atmospheric carbon, and play an important role to attract beneficial insects/pollinators to the garden. The edible schoolyard includes fruit trees, berry bushes, vines, and other perennial plants that are a great bang for the buck. Sold yet?

During the day volunteers gained  insight about the benefits of fruit trees, proper planting technique, and sustainable agriculture. Welcome pomegranate, fig, and pear to APA! ” – Robby

Early morning shot of the site. We put down cardboard to deter grass regrowth.

A flurry of activity later in the day.

Completed Edible Schoolyard @ Atlanta Preparatory Academy

Kwabena Nkromo is the Program Director of AM-FFN.  while Stephanie Radbill serves as Operations Coordinator of AM-FFN and volunteer Garden Manager at Atlanta Preparatory Academy. Lynne  “Serwaa” Young is AM-FFN’s Grants & Finance Manager and resident permaculturist.  Robby Astrove, AMFFN team member and fruit tree guru provided technical assistance to the project and hands-on instruction/education to volunteers.

Photo by Brad Bell

Related posts:An Edible Schoolyard is Coming to Vine City!

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