2015 Golden Trowel Awards

[From top left clockwise: 2015 Golden Trowel Awardees and presenters; 2015 Golden Beet Awardees; CSG Founder Linda Winecoff, CSG Executive Director Jeanette Abi-Nader and Buford Principal Eric Johnson; CCS Assistant Superintendent Jim Henderson with teacher winners Jessica Spears and Mary Craig.]

Last month, the whole CSG team got together to celebrate the 2015 Golden Trowel and Golden Beet Awards at our annual Root Celebration. This year's Root Celebration was held at Clark Elementary School, where CSG staff and board, Garden Coordinators, volunteers, parents, students, teachers, administrators, sponsors, and community members alike gathered to show their support for and pride in the many ways in which youth are engaging in gardening and growing and to celebrate all of the people who have helped to make that happen.

This year's Golden Trowel Awards went to:
  • Outstanding Partner: Allegheny Mountain Institute - Ellen Butchart, Laurie Berman
  • Outstanding Partner: PB&J Fund - Emily Wampler, Alicia Cost, Courtenay Evans
  • Outstanding Donor: Sticks Kebob Shop - Ty Austin and partners
  • Outstanding Educator: Mary Craig, Clark Elementary School Librarian
  • Outstanding Educator: Jessica Spears, Burnley-Moran Elementary School Kindergarten Teacher
A special Outstanding Student Group was honored with Golden Beet Awards, which were presented to the Buford Garden Aides: 7th & 8th graders Avery Melton, Jose Nunez-Campos, Leela Paudel, Sumitra Tamang, and Qena Taylor.

Check out our recent blog to hear more about the event and read excerpts from the many heartfelt speeches given on behalf of this year's awardees.

Cultivating History in the CSG Gardens
This year, Garden Coordinators at City Schoolyard Gardens across Charlottesville are working with teachers and students to cultivate an understanding of our varied agricultural past by growing several crops that carry deep-rooted historical and cultural significance. This spring, students at Johnson, Burnley-Moran, and Greenbrier Elementary Schools planted cotton with the intention of learning more about the many ways in which African-Americans built our agricultural history.

Before planting their cotton, students at Burnley-Moran discussed the history of slavery in the United States and actually got to listen to an interview of an ex-slave named Fountain Hughes from Baltimore, Maryland recorded in 1949.

In addition to cotton, students at Buford, Johnson, and Greenbrier grew peanuts and students at Buford, Greenbrier, Burnley-Moran, and Clark grew sweet potatoes. These crops were once studied by the brilliant African American botanist and inventor, George Washington Carver. Carver researched and advocated alternative crops to cotton that he believed could go far in nourishing impoverished lands and peoples. During their week-long celebration of Earth Day, kindergarten students at Clark learned about George Washington Carver, sweet potatoes, and the importance of vegetable gardening.

Read our blog to learn more about the many ways in which students across Charlottesville are learning about African American history and heritage in the gardens this year.


CSG Garden Corner

Join us for tips about planting, pruning and harvesting in your garden.

June 2015:
Easy Pickling and Fermenting

by Samantha Taggart


Pretty soon those carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, and cauliflower will start to come in (if they haven't already!) and we'll all have veggies coming out our ears! Luckily there are many simple, tried-and-true methods for preserving and adding a little zest to all of those beautiful summer vegetables! This blog talks about two of those - pickling and fermenting.

Read Sam's blog to get the full scoop on quick and easy ways to pickle and ferment!

Harvest now: carrots, beets, collards, kale, swiss chard, basil and cucumbers!
What to do now: keep a handle on summer weeding and watering!


CSG sends out a hearty thank you to each and every one of the individuals, businesses and foundations that support the work we do to engage youth in nature, enhance academic learning, and cultivate the skills for healthy living. We can only thrive with your partnerships! 

Thank you to the Fresh Market for the delicious food for our Root Celebration and to our Board Root Committee for all of their help with planning and hosting the event!

Another hearty shout out to our friends at Sticks Kebob Shop for providing donations through the May Sticks Saturdays and snack boxes for our after-school clubs.

Thanks to the UVA Alpha Phi Omega chapter for volunteering again at CSG gardens and building the Greenbrier Planting Table. You all rock!


Springing Through and Starting Summer!

[Students at Buford Middle School planting tomato plants earlier this spring]

This spring Buford students were in the garden during a couple cold weeks in March and as soon as it warmed up again in April for their Family and Consumer Science (FACS), Earth Science, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), Physical Education (PE), and Garden Aide classes.

All their time and energy definitely shows in the bounty of the garden.  Throughout the summer we will to host Buford Garden Crew workdays to keep youth engaged in the gardens and sharing the harvest.

To read more about all of the continued excitement happening in the garden at Buford Middle School this summer, check out our recent blog post!

Collaborating with Teachers on Garden-Based Learning

[Garden observations made by a student from Venable Elementary 3rd Grade Teacher Lisa Shook's class]

For the past year, City Schoolyard Garden has increased our efforts to collaborate with teachers around the development and implementation of garden-based lessons. We have done this through two cross-school lessons: What's the Leaf and First Peas to the Table, as well as through various Harvest of the Month lessons and unique lessons in each of the schools.

Just last week a dozen educators met to brainstorm ideas around a Third Grade Performance Based Assessment (PBA) that teachers can use to assess different Standards of Learning (SOL) subject areas while having students engaged outdoors in the garden.

Stay tuned for more information as it develops.

Tidbits & Dates to Remember


Summer Volunteer Opportunities 

Are you looking to get more involved with City Schoolyard Garden? Visit our website to check out the list of volunteer days this summer and be sure to fill out our volunteer information survey!

Buford Summer Gardening Days

CCS Students ages 12-14 are invited to help out in the Buford garden - students will help water, weed, trellis, harvest, taste, and take home produce! Click here to see a complete list of the gardening days offered this summer at Buford.
Email Emily Axelbaum, CSG Garden Educator, at emily@cityschoolyardgarden.org or call her at (314) 799-9394 if your student is interested in joining on any of our gardening days.

We have updated our website! Check us out.

Now there is more information on CSG programming, including our Education Frame for Garden Lessons (RootED), Harvest of the Month program, and First Peas to the Table friendly competition.

For fun updates, photos and stories, be sure to like us on Facebook!

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P.O. Box 5285, Charlottesville, VA 22905
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