Engaging Families for Student Success

The Garfield Garden: Parent Leadership Grows in Ward 8

July 10, 2015

Almost a year ago, Garfield Elementary School’s PTA President Dawn Bedminister joined us for one of our summer trips, to the Common Good City Farm in NW DC. Among the fruit trees and rows of sweet potatoes, kale, and lettuce that parents and students were helping farm staff water and harvest, inspiration struck. In the following weeks, Ms. Bedminster shared her vision with us: an urban garden at Garfield that would beautify the school grounds, enhance classroom science instruction, and act as an anchor and rallying point for parents and community at Garfield.

seeds in handMs. Bedminster worked with Turning the Page all year to identify community partners, broker her ideas with school leadership, and organize Garfield parent leaders and staff to make the garden a reality. The result was an eventful May 2015 at Garfield that exemplified the kind of collaboration and pooling of community resources that TTP strives to build. Miranda Cooper, Civic Engagement Project Leader for

City Year, rallied volunteers from CEB  to build four large garden beds next to the school. At a special 9th Community Night led by Ms. Bedminster and TTP staff, OSSE’s Garden Specialist Sam Ullery spoke with families and provided free seeds to begin the garden. Garfield parents brainstormed together about their visions for the garden’s future and how it could Teddy with two plantscontribute to the school, discussing what they wanted to grow, how to share the responsibilities of caring for the plants, and using the garden to help students develop entrepreneurial and business skills through selling the produce.  At the end of the evening, families potted the seeds to take home and careuntil they were ready for planting at the end of the month.

Ms. Bedminster with shovelFinally, on May 31st, Garfield parents, students, and TTP staff came together for a planting day. Ms. Bedminister added the first shovelful of soil to the garden bed which was quickly followed by the seedlings and baby tomato plants. As we continue to plant seeds and care for the garden this summer, Turning the Page is looking forward to supporting the Garfield Community Garden’s growth in what’s sure to be a fruitful coming year.