Rainier Beach High School Courtyard Garden
After a decade of falling attendance and declining test scores, Rainier Beach High School, located in a low-income community near Lake Washington, is turning the corner. A deepening engagement with the broader Rainier Beach community has revitalized the school’s culture, while supporting the community itself. The courtyard garden project is part of this renewed relationship between school and community. It was started last summer by two RBHS students, with support from Seattle Tilth, a community organization that provides hands-on education and healthy food alternatives for Rainier Beach community members. Work on the garden has continued, thanks to teacher Aaron Jefferson, a group of studio art students, maintenance staff, and the continued support of Seattle Tilth. The garden has garnered praise in local publications and welcomed MacArthur Genius Will Allen for a work party in November of 2013.
The courtyard garden's mission is three-fold. First, the courtyard was a wasted space. Students avoided it and teachers shut their blinds rather than look onto the desolate space. RBHS students Elizabeth and Makayla wanted to revitalize the space, creating a productive, green, inviting space for students, thereby increasing overall community health. Second, the garden aims to empower students by providing them with long-term opportunities for direct, hands-on service to their community. Very few have had experience with growing food. Working in the garden and seeing the direct impact of their efforts can be a transformative experience. We will use the funding to engage more of the school community in the garden, enabling students to direct all aspects of the project. Third, the Rainier Beach community is subject to food-desertification. The garden will provide students with a healthy food source on their school grounds, connecting students to the food they consume, and encouraging them to think critically about their food choices.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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