School & Community Gardens
In early 2015, Foster created an extracurricular school garden project at the arts high school where he teaches. The project was designed to provide students with opportunities to learn about raising flowers, vegetables, and herbs on a small scale without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Since an August 2018 fire caused the school to relocate to a temporary location, the project was rebuilt as a school garden on the site of what had once been an elementary-school playground. After Foster attended the National Sustainability Teachers Academy, Camp McDowell’s Farm School Workshop, and the ASAN Food & Farm Forum in the summer and fall of 2019, the project began added activities related to sustainability and healthy eating, too.
Unfortunately, the school closures during the COVID-19 pandemic halted the project. After a rainy winter in early 2020, students were sent home from schools in March at about the time for planting. With the majority of students continuing online during the 2020–2021 school year, the school garden lay fallow for more than a year. Despite Foster’s “stubborn optimism” in late 2019, there has been no way to continue a school garden without student involvement.
However, Foster remains active in the Old Cloverdale Community Garden, where he has a raised bed and tends a worm farm that produces fertilizer for the gardeners. His work in the community garden also began in 2015, when he helped to clear to the donated vacant lot so that construction could begin. Since then, he has been involved in regular maintenance and whatever tasks are needed.
To learn about the school garden project and its history, click on the links below:
Farm School Lessons and My Stubborn Optimism from November 2019
A Moveable Feast: Fall Finally Comes to a School Garden from November 2019
A Moveable Feast: Daring to Plant in Mid-August! from August 2019
“Two MPS teachers selected to attend sustainability academy in Montana” in the Montgomery Advertiser, April 21, 2019
A Moveable Feast: Vegetable Beds for a Rebirthed School Garden from March 2019
A Moveable Feast: The Rebirth of a School Garden from January 2019
The School Garden, Year Three from September 2016
A mid-summer progress report on the school garden from July 2015
Humble progress at the school garden from June 2015
A few months later . . . voila— a vegetable garden from May 2015