NCAT would like to extend a big congratulations to Butte FoodCorps Service Member, Marisa Kanemitsu!  Marisa wrapped up a crowdfunding campaign in December raising $1,115 for the West Elementary School Garden.  In addition to these crowdfunded donations, the campaign was awarded an additional $400 for begin one of the first to reach their $600 goal.  In total, this fundraiser will be bringing $1,515 into the School Garden at West Elementary in Butte.  Continue reading for more information on Marisa’s campaign goals….

“West Elementary School’s garden is celebrating its second birthday this year! The garden’s inception and development have truly been a community effort, with many people graciously donating their time and energy. Local businesses donated seeds, tools, lumber, and soil and provided compost for the beds. Community volunteers, teachers, school administration, and students helped build raised beds and paint picnic benches. Teachers also donated birdhouses and other decorations.

Since its days as an empty courtyard, the garden has transformed into an incredible learning space for over 500 students. The garden has also grown over 200 pounds of produce that have been used for tasting and nutrition lessons, Harvest of the Month cooking lessons, and donated to the local food bank.

Despite these successes, the garden needs resources to keep up with maintenance as each year passes, not only for aesthetic purposes but also for safety reasons. Currently, there is no space to store garden equipment- tools, buckets, and the lawn mower are kept in the back of the garden within reach of curious elementary school hands. In order to keep garden lessons safe, teachers would like to put in a garden shed to store this equipment.

In the coming seasons, the school would also like to better equip students during their time in the garden.  Additional tools, such as kid friendly gloves and trowels, would allow every student to get his or her hands in the dirt, develop a sense of camaraderie, and encourage more student ownership of the garden.

The West Farm to School committee, comprised of parents, teachers, and community volunteers, has even bigger visions for the future of the school garden. This group hopes to grow produce for occasional use in the school cafeteria, develop an integrated garden curriculum for teachers in each grade level, and make the garden an essential part of the students’ academic experience at West.”

-Marisa Kanemitsu

This crowdfunding campaign was hosted by SeedMoney, a nonprofit that is helping public food gardens to start and thrive by offering them grants, access to crowdfunding and technical assistance with garden planning.