SOIL Outdoor Learning Lab will replace the closed Ohana Kuleana community garden when it opens next spring at Riverside Elementary School. The project includes four phases and organizers are still looking for volunteers and donors. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by StoneAge Tools and The Community Foundation Serving Southwest Colorado
Students and volunteers are seeing the fruits of their labor as Durango's newest community garden takes growth. You're watching the Local News Network brought to you by STONEAGE, and the Community Foundation serving Southwest Colorado. I'm Connor Shreve. Work is underway to have a new community garden open by next spring at Riverview Elementary School. The latest edition, new fencing, along with an entrance gate and signage. Project Manager, Charlie Love, says the Soil Outdoor Learning Lab will replace the Ohana Kuleana Garden where he's been teaching agronomy for the past decade.
So, that closed down at the end of this growing season, and when I found out about that, I knew we needed to come up with a substitute, and start talking with some different people. And ended up growing a much bigger vision than the community garden we were replacing, and something that'll really benefit the entire community as well as the entire school district and the region.
While the gardens aren't ready to sustain any plant life just yet, the new fencing proved a perfect place to feature art contest submissions from Durango K through 12 students. Volunteer Adrienne Murphy helped whittle nearly 300 submissions down to 26.
The question for the submission, that each piece of artwork, the question they were supposed to answer was, "How does the garden help you grow?" So, in the 300 submissions that we got, you know, that was our number one criteria. Did they answer that question?
Organizers hope the art displays will inspire community members, and keep students interested in the field. Love wants the lab to embody togetherness and community.
I really do want to have art be a focus of this whole project in addition to gardening and education and a lot of other elements. So, part of it was just getting some kids' artwork up in place from the beginning, and then also just a reason to have people come out, and see the site, and learn more about it.
The Garden Lab will come in four phases, and plans are extensive, including an event space, farm Lab, growing dome, and a commercial classroom kitchen, among other features. Love says phase one, the community and school gardens, is still on pace to be ready for next growing season.
We're going to continue building through the winter, as much as weather will allow. And then we've partnered up with... We're working on a partnership with the City of Durango and Parks and Recreation. So, we'll be taking registration for people that want to have a garden bed in the community garden. So, we'll be getting that set up this winter. And then in the spring, we want to have this phase one complete, ready for people to start gardening.
Soil is still trying to reach its fundraising goal, and is looking for corporate sponsors, individual donors, and volunteers. You can find details on the Outdoor Learning Lab online at soillab.org. Thanks for watching the Local News Network. I'm Connor Shreve.