2015 is the International Year of Soils!

City Schoolyard Garden's Winter Appeal

[An excerpt from CSG's 2015 winer appeal showing a few of the program outputs across our seven gardens during the 2014/2015 school year.]

City Schoolyard Garden has just launched our 2015 winter appeal, which is full of information about the many ways in which CSG has grown over the last year, including updates on our Harvest of the Month Program, Community Food Project collaborative efforts, cross-garden programming, and quotes from some of our youth gardeners at various schools.

The appeal also includes a special note from CSG Board Treasurer, Bill Lanzana, who describes how generous donations from individuals, businesses, and foundations help us to engage 2,900 youth across Charlottesville City Schools and the community.

As Bill notes in the appeal letter, one of the most exciting areas of growth for CSG over the last year has been to more deeply understand the impact we are having on the youth with whom we engage across Charlottesville and how our programs provide students with a foundation for learning about health, nutrition, sustainability, and community. In addition to the updates about CSG's programming, the appeal letter shares some of the measurable impacts recorded during an evaluation of a few of CSG programs over the 2014/2015 year. The evaluation results were gleaned in partnership with Dr. Eileen Merritt and her graduate student seminar class at the UVA Curry School of Education.

We hope that you will check out the appeal and make a donation to support City Schoolyard Garden today! You can find more information about the appeal in our recent blog and donate online or by mail. Thank you for your support!

Growing Community in the Jackson-Via After School Garden Club

[From top left clockwise: Photos from the Jackson-Via after school garden club. This week we went out on a nature walk along the Jackson-Via Nature Trail.]

Despite the shortening days and increasingly chilly temperatures, kids are still having lots of fun out in the garden at Jackson-Via! New to the school this year is a fall garden club run by Jackson-Via's stellar new Garden Coordinator, Anthony Burton. The garden club has drawn students from multiple grade levels (from  Kindergarten all the way to fourth!), which has made it all the more interesting for the students involved to interact with peers from different grades.

Each week looks a little different since garden activities always depend on the weather, however, one core theme that has remained consistent each week is the idea that we are working to foster community in the garden. Anthony has keenly laid out this intention for the students by encouraging them to come up with expectations and goals for themselves and each other in the garden to help shape a positive and fun environment for everyone. These have included listening to each other when sharing stories or questions as well as trying to be helpful team members when working on different garden tasks.

A few weeks ago, garden club students worked on sifting through worm compost to be added to the new raised beds in the Jackson-Via garden. We talked about worms as part of our garden community and the important role they play in decomposing old plant material and regenerating soil for the garden. We then connected the soil community to our own garden club community, talking about all of the different roles that we can all play to help each other in our community.

Read more about the Jackson-Via after school garden club in our recent blog post.


CSG Garden Corner

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

November 2015:
International Year of Soils

by Samantha Taggart


For anyone who has not yet heard the exciting news...2015 is the International Year of Soils! Each year in the City Schoolyard Gardens around Charlottesville, students learn about the importance of soil and how we can help maintain soil health over the long run. This year, students at Buford Middle School took an in-depth look at soils and soil-makers by studying two different types of worms as decomposers.

Read more in our recent blog about their cool experiment and some of the other things going on at various schools to celebrate the importance of healthy soils.

Harvest now: winter greens and hardy herbs
What to do now: give your hardy, cool-weather crops such as lettuce, spinach, kale, collards, and mustards extra protection from the frost by using row cover; start getting beds prepped for winter.

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 Charlottesville City Schools and the CCS School Board for providing financial support to City Schoolyard Garden. The combined partnership of collaborative program design & implementation and much needed funding support contributes to stabilizing programs for long-term youth engagement.  

Thank you to the Virginia Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom for supporting our schoolyard garden programs with mini-grants to six of our schoolyard gardens!

Thank you to Sticks Kebob Shop for providing snacks for our after school garden clubs and field trips this fall!  The students love the delicious snacks!

A huge thank you to CSG's Intern, Grey Sylvester!

[Grey Sylvester has been working as CSG's Intern since mid-September.]

Over the last few months, City Schoolyard Garden has had the pleasure of welcoming Grey Sylvester onto the CSG team as an intern. Grey is a second-year undergraduate student in the School of Architecture at UVA, pursuing a major in Urban and Environmental Planning. Grey brings positivity and a can-do attitude every day to her work with CSG. She is incredibly smart, dedicated, and fun to work with and has helped CSG with so many different projects.

Part of what drew Grey to want to intern with City Schoolyard Garden was her experience growing up in New York City with limited access to green space. Grey says that a large concrete slab was the only place where students could play outdoors during her elementary school and middle school years. Since those days, Grey has become a firm believer in outdoor learning and garden-based education and, through her chosen major, she hopes to connect urban communities back to the natural environment.

Grey has also been a huge help in the garden at Jackson-Via, where she helps to host the after school garden club. "Ms. Grey," as she is called there, is quite the superstar and at any given time during garden club, she may have as many as five or six students walking close beside her and asking her millions of questions. Grey is wonderful with students and it certainly shows during garden club.

Read more about this wonderful gal and all of the great work she's done for CSG on our recent blog post.

Farm-to-Students and

[Buford students visit New Branch Farm]

This fall, CSG began purchasing and distributing a fall farm-share from New Branch Farm to the Buford Garden Aides as an expansion of the Harvest of the Month Program already going strong at the CCS elementary schools.

The overall purpose of the Harvest of the Month (HoM) program is to build life-long healthy living skills for Charlottesville youth with hands-on experience of and learning about fresh, healthy foods from garden-to-table and to build CCS and community capacity for healthy, local foods.

At Buford, we've designed the HoM Farm-Share Program to:
- Increase and diversify the produce distributed to students that work in the garden
- Build student capacity to prepare fresh ingredients into wholesome meals
- Broaden awareness about where our food comes from and what it looks like to eat seasonally and locally
- Incentivize student work in the garden

The HoM Farm-Share Program is how we are connecting farms to students. However, last week, we flipped that around and brought the students out to New Branch Farm to tour with owner and head farmer Stephanie Meyers. Read more about this exciting new program at Buford Middle School and the fun trip that students had to New Branch Farm on CSG Garden Educator, Emily Axelbaum's blog.

Tidbits & Dates to Remember

The Healthy Ladle: Gather around a common table celebrating the change of seasons in an intimate setting.
Like good food and want to support CSG? CSG Board Member, Cate Whittington, is offering a delicious, seasonal, four-course dinner or Sunday brunch to enjoy with friends, old and new. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to City Schoolyard Garden. Cate is offering various dates from 11/13 - 12/18. Contact her at cateoliver@yahoo.com for more information.

Check out the CSG Events page for more events.

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

City Schoolyard Garden needs and appreciates your support. We are still working to raise funds for the remainder of programs this academic year. Click on the apple to donate or send a check to our address below. Thank you!

P.O. Box 5285, Charlottesville, VA 22905
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