According to a recent State of Tucson’s Food System report by the UA’s Center for Regional Food Studies, there are currently 57 school gardens across the Tucson Unified School District (TUSD) out of 86 TUSD school sites. These gardens have far-reaching impacts on the educational experiences of the thousands of TUSD school children. One student from the Tucson High School club says “for me, Garden Club is the safest place in the whole school, as well as my favorite place to be. High school is extremely stressful. The garden allows me to escape, I can’t stress about how much homework I have when I’m outside digging, chasing chickens and eating carrots with my friends.”
Across 24 low-income schools and 3 community gardens in Tucson, the University of Arizona Community School and Garden Program (CSGP) harnesses the teaching potential of a garden by placing undergraduate and graduate students training in the basics of sustainable agriculture as interns. The interns support the installation, maintenance, and enhancement of these public gardens, and assist site coordinators, teachers, and K-12 students in the use of these outdoor spaces as an extension of the classroom. You are invited to a self-guided tour of these school gardens sponsored in partnership with the Food Conspiracy Co-op, Tucson’s community-owned grocery store open to the public featuring local, organic and natural foods and celebrating 47 years serving the Tucson community. Conspiracy Garden at the Co-op is newly activated outdoor space in partnership with TUSD’s Community Transition Program and neighboring exceptional education students from Tucson High School. Mark Reynolds, a teacher on staff says, “Community Transition Programs is grateful to have been invited to work with the Conspiracy Garden to help teach our students employability skills through gardening and an appreciation for ecology.”
On Saturday, March 3rd, from 9am – 12pm, CSGP and the Food Conspiracy Co-op are partnering to host the Sown Together, Grown Together School Garden Tour. For this self-guided tour, experience firsthand the diversity and richness of school and community gardens across the city. Come enjoy exciting new developments such as the cutting-edge agrivoltaic installations (gardens developed under the solar panels) at Manzo Elementary and Rincon University High School, the new greenhouse at J.B. Wright Elementary, and aquaponics system at Manzo Elementary. Tickets are $5-20 a person on sliding scale with proceeds benefitting the CSGP. Purchase tickets here. Come let the students be your guide to these 12 exciting and innovative spaces while supporting the CSGP!