Pinelands Alternative School: Creating and Harvesting

We started out our project by making a drawing of the layout of the raised beds creating a six foot by forty foot garden bed consisting of four separate six by ten foot beds. Thus, we had four attached end to end six by ten foot beds.

We decided to grow greens and early spring crops consisting of three types of lettuce, Red Russian kale, spinach and Swiss chard. In each bed we reserved a row of walking onions and arugula. We knew that summer crops would not be enjoyed by students and staff so we decided to plant only spring crops and sow in the summer, fall crops.

The students constructed and filled the beds with over seven and a half yards of composted manure and leaf mold and soil mixed with peat moss and vermiculite. In addition, to this we created a trap rock work area bordered by landscape ties to keep out weed seeds from the surrounding grassy areas on the length and both width sides of the raised beds. On the other length side of the bed is a concrete walkway.

The students hauled and shoveled over five yards of trap rock. We have a large green house where we started the plants from seed in early March and transported the seedlings which were at least five weeks old and planted them in early April. We have been donating the crops to both the junior and senior high school since mid- May. However, our plans are on hiatus for next year because we found out due to budgetary reasons our Alternative School is being closed.

The only snag and problem we had was the way the administration put the $1,500 check into the general account. Although we have our own garden account which we created with money we made on plant sales and can easily access without school board approval, the AtlantiCare grant check was deposited in the high school’s general account. We could not access the money without school board approval. The procedure involved getting a purchase order from an approved vendor, going before the school board once a month to approve then cut checks, hindering our efforts to complete the projects on time. As a gardener, we need to plan around the season and as situations arise. You cannot wait a month or more for garden supplies and equipment to meet the demands of the season and planting times. In closing, we did work around administrative hurdles and had a successful growing and harvest season. Thank you, AtlantiCare!


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