Challenges ahead

An outdoor classroom, which the Vegetable Project proposes to develop at Myers Middle School, will energize teachers and captivate students. Considerable research points to prospects for such a project to really contribute to a school’s educational offering. The school district, however, has not jumped at the opportunity to become the leading investor in this. And we are aware of no interest in the concept at the state Education Department. So these are challenges.

Still, we remain confident that the community will provide financial support to undertake the project when we present it effectively. We are, however, struggling to move forward, due mainly to the challenge of financing a really necessary presentation, such as one with major participation of a licensed professional landscape architect.

Here is a summary of where we stand:

  • We probably cannot put concrete footings in the ground, nor do anything else that would cause a structure to be considered “permanent,” without participation of licensed design professionals.
  • We have never really finished an inclusive discussion about where permanent structures should be located. That alone would make it imprudent to seek to build a “permanent” structure.
  • We do not have a completed plan reflecting an inclusive discussion about where key features would be located. So in addition to the imprudence of seeking to build a “permanent” structure, we are not in a strong position engage the design professionals whose participation would probably be necessary to explain the project to the school district or to engage prospective contributors.
  • While perhaps not an absolute necessity, a completed plan would ideally be produced by a landscape architect. And development of such a plan would include gathering information and perspectives on appropriate locations for permanent structures and presentation of draft plans to stakeholders.
  • We have $3,535 devoted to development of such a plan and one proposal that would cost significantly more than that.
  • We have $2,000 for development of a hoophouse-style greenhouse, which might have been sufficient before the state Education Department started viewing these as permanent structures.
  • We have received encouraging responses from prospective funders (Ronald McDonald Children’s Charities for a greenhouse, before recognizing the need for a full plan, and Charles Touhey), but no funding from those encouraging prospects.
  • We generally are hesitant to devote routine and ongoing Vegetable Project fundraising to an outdoor classroom before meeting ongoing needs. As an example, we absolutely must employ a garden caretaker to do a significant portion of daily garden management during warm months. The volunteers can no longer keep it up.
  • With a professionally done plan, engaging the school district and prospective funders would be easier. We either need more funding, however, to engage a landscape architect or more effort to find one who could work within out existing financial constraints.
  • The time and energy to talk with additional landscape architects tends to compete with more routine activities, such as Garden Club, garden care at two school and mentoring high school students.