Art Garden grows creativity of a new kind
Tuesday, May 24th, 2022
The PCA&D Art Garden has been the location of murals and memorials, art classes, critiques, and public art installations. This summer, it’s the location for creativity of a different kind.
Four raised-bed gardens have been planted with vegetables, herbs, and flowers, a joint project between the city police Office of Community Engagement and The Mix, a Lancaster city non-profit organization that provides students with resources and activities to excel in the classroom and beyond.
“The goal is to teach the students about gardening and how they can utilize what they plant in a variety of ways, especially the herbs and vegetables,” says Marisol Santos, Director of Student and Family Engagement at The Mix. “Once (the produce) can be harvested, they will be able to take some home for their families.”
On a recent sunny May afternoon, about 10 middle school students from The Mix arrived in the Art Garden to meet with Lt. Glenn Stoltzfus of the city police department. He’d arrived with flats of vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, herbs like cilantro, basil, and stevia, and brilliant yellow and orange marigolds. Already assembled and filled with soil, four oval raised beds awaited trowels and hands eager to get roots into dirt.
Within an hour, everything was planted, with some extra seedlings parcelled out to the students to plant at home. They’ll continue to visit their garden once or twice a week to help out with watering, weeding, and plant care.
“The kids who came out from The Mix were amazing,” said Stoltzfus, who’s in charge of the Office of Community Engagement. “We have a long-running partnership with The Mix and when I called and asked for student volunteers there was an immediate positive response.”
Some of those student volunteers already have gardening experience. Last summer, The Mix partnered on a raised bed garden with Edible Classroom, a Lancaster-based non-profit that collaborates to create and sustain learning gardens. A community member built a second raised bed for herbs and vegetables. The Mix students then used what they grew to make healthy Edible Classroom recipes, Santos said.
A long-term goal of Stoltzfus, he said, is to expand this kind of project into the city’s pocket parks and other unused green spaces. “The beds in the park,” he said, “are to get the conversation started and get us working with families in the community to take these ideas home with them.”