Forest Gluys

There’s nothing virtual or remote about a school garden. The sweet aroma of basil that lingers on your fingers like earthy perfume. The joy of watching a green bean seed – the one you planted last Monday! – as it pokes a curly shoot from the soil. It’s as real as the blue sky overhead and the yellow dandelions under foot. After two years of screen time, Fair Food Matters is happy to reconnect students with such rooted experiences.

Realistically, we’ve got some catching up to do. The school closings and isolation took its toll on students and on the garden. Yet there’s good news for the 300+ K-5 students we serve at Woodward Elementary School. The garden upgrades now underway will enrich the hands-on lessons we teach in math, science and the language arts. And with your help, we’ll do even more. Here’s the highlights:

Addition of year-round staff: We recently hired Forest Gluys as FFM program director. Forest comes with experience at FRESHFARM and Food Recovery Network, both in Washington D.C. As year-round staff, Forest will spend the summer “rejuvenating’’ the garden, building out the Eco Shed, and planning for a new fruit orchard in the fall.

Rejuvenated Garden Space: Along with growing healthy food, we want the garden to be a beautiful, peaceful place to visit. This restful environment will reduce stress and anxiety for students, even as they get their hands dirty in the rich soil. Think bright flowers, renovated fish pond, more fragrant herbs and sitting places.

Eco Shed Buildout: We erected the shed (thanks Jim Gilmore, Jr. Foundation!) and this summer we’ll install the solar panel, green roof and rain barrels. We’ll park our electric mower in the shed, charged by the solar panel. This little building will help us teach big lessons in sustainability.

With your timely help, we’ll do all this and more in the year ahead. Here’s to a summer and school year of new beginnings!