Our History Across the Seasons
Season 2 -- 2011
During the second garden season, we opened the project to any interested families or individuals in the Crawford Country School District attendance area. Participants met regularly to work at the garden, and we partnered with the Crawford Area Transit Authority to transport families to the site. We continued to offer an array of community and educational experiences at the garden, including nature walks, culinary herb classes, butterfly explorations, stepping stone creations, and interactive measuring lessons. A ‘Little Gardener’s Club” was added to offer a creative learning opportunity for younger children (ages 0 - 5 years) at the garden site. Our project goals for 2011 were to expand the physical size of the garden to provide produce for the additional families, and to focus on developing sustainable energy practices and educating participants about the many processes they observed at the garden site. Governed by the newly incorporated non-profit, the Creating Landscapes Learning Center Inc., the garden developed and maintained significant support from community, regional and national partners.
Season 1 -- 2010
The Creating Landscapes for Families: Community Garden at the Ackerman Farm was launched in summer 2010 out of the vision to offer an aesthetic gardening experience to 26 low-income families from Second District Elementary School with the hope that they would develop increased awareness about healthy food while engaging in critical thinking through hands-on education at the garden. The program was a result of collaboration among the local farmer, self-selected Crawford Central School District teachers and administrators, interested community members, and student volunteers from Allegheny College to form a dedicated community of stakeholders. Over the course of 22 weeks between May and October 2010, opportunities the garden provided brought together families, community groups, religious organizations, businesses, and individual volunteers who were attracted by their own interests in the mission of the garden, together growing a bountiful harvest and building an empowered community.
The Community Garden at Ackerman Farm was first conceived in fall 2008 over a bowl of chili when Bob Ackerman, farm owner, and Jan Hyatt, CEO and founder of Creating Landscapes, were in conversation about children’s education. Jan and Bob’s initial conversation was lively—full of possible outcomes if and when children and the farm might come together. For one year, Jan, Bob and a group of friends who called themselves ‘the stakeholders’ met regularly to talk about a possible ‘farm school’.
While these conversations were taking place another Creating Landscapes learning satellite was evolving—Creating Landscapes for Families. The driving forces behind this program were Joyce Klasen, first grade teacher at Second District and Creating Landscapes Teacher and Tamara Clark, principal, who quickly became ‘garden stakeholders’ For six weeks during the fall of 2009 more than 30 families came together weekly to create song, dance, story, visual art and to share refreshments. The first session of weekly meetings culminated with a Thanksgiving dinner which left the proverbial ‘Loaves and Fishes’ story in the dust.
Throughout the winter conversations about the ‘farm school’ continued with the hope of piloting a program in the fall of 2010 when one evening one of the stakeholders suggested a merging of ideas—the Farm School and Creating Landscapes for Families—and the idea for the Community Garden was born!
~ Jan Hyatt, fall 2010