In summer 2016, Mesa's Outdoor Learning Lab was a hive of activity. Members of FarmCorps, a program of Southwest Conservation Corps, and AmeriCorps NCCC worked alongside community volunteers and MSTFP staff to install benches and work surfaces, raised beds, washing stations, compost bins, a cold frame, shed, adobe oven, herb spiral, and more. They also gave the existing pavilion a fresh new look in anticipation for MSTFP classes to begin in the fall.
Mesa students visit the garden for classes focusing on science, math, nutrition, history, art, problem solving, and team building. The garden programs and curriculum urge students to draw connections between their individual actions and the world around them by offering opportunities to become active community citizens while learning in an outdoor setting.
Students regularly visit the garden during recess and after-school clubs have taken advantage of the space as well. An orchard was installed in October 2016 with assistance and guidance from the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project. This winter students will help plan spring planting and will help put together educational garden “kits” that visitors will be able to use on their own. As the Mesa community gets better acquainted with the garden, expect to see more projects and installations; plans of a native plant walk and a tea garden are in the works!
MSTFP partnered with Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) to offer a Farm Corps program in June 2016, which trained, educated and coached young people from southwest Colorado. MSTFP and SCC offered project specific training to youth crew members in the skills required to build necessary elements of a school garden facility in the arid Southwest. During the course of the 4 week program, participants installed raised beds with drip irrigation systems, constructed a 8'x12' garden shed, installed a cold frame, built a compost system, refurbished an existing School Garden Shade Ramada, added benches and tabletop surfaces into the Ramada, and constructed an adobe oven.