Organic gardening, made possible with Job Corps' ARRA funds, provides valuable training and healthy food choices for Job Corps students. The individual projects allow students to put into practice the skills they learn in the classroom, and the bountiful crops from the gardens yield yet another opportunity for students to learn about healthy eating. From garden to kitchen, from rake to fork, here are some examples of organic gardening at work.
Hawaii-Maui Job Corps Center
The Hawaii-Maui Job Corps Center has an indigenous garden that students are maintaining. They have planted and harvested bananas, tapioca, sweet potatoes, taro, papayas, and other fruits and native Hawaiian vegetables for use in the center cafeteria.
Carville Job Corps Center
The Carville Job Corps Center garden includes two greenhouses and three planter boxes in which students cultivate vegetables and herbs. Several students and staff members formed the Carville Job Corps Garden Club, where students maintain the growing vegetables and learn about environmental responsibility and healthy eating.
Delaware Valley Job Corps Center
The Delaware Valley Job Corps Center used Earth Day Every Day ARRA funds to purchase, plant, and seed a community vegetable and herb garden on center.Carpentry and Material and Distribution Operations students built the garden, and Culinary Arts students maintain and harvest tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, collard greens, basil, dill, and other herbs and vegetables.The center has also invited the local community to enjoy the benefits of the garden by encouraging their neighbors to take home fresh crops produced by the garden.
New Orleans Job Corps Center
Although the New Orleans Job Corps Center’s organic garden, which it shares with its neighbors, is not completely ARRA-funded, the rain barrels the students use on center to collect water for the garden were purchased with ARRA funds. The center also uses ARRA-funded compost stations to collect grass clippings, food scraps, and other waste to help maintain the garden. Many students were involved in the development of this project, as Construction training students built the garden and Culinary Arts students planted the herbs and vegetables that are used in the center cafeteria. The center has invited local residents to take part in the garden by offering them the opportunity to pick fruits and vegetables for themselves, which has greatly increased the center’s local profile. The center has also partnered with a local elementary school to adopt a first-grade class that helps with the garden on a regular basis.
Brunswick Job Corps Center
The Brunswick Job Corps Center is growing tomatoes, squash, peppers, okra, and corn in their center garden, which was constructed by students who are studying landscaping. The center anticipates cost savings on food purchases, as the center plans to use the vegetables in the cafeteria and Culinary Arts program. The center also plans to contribute to the community by donating fresh vegetables from the garden to local food shelters.
Charleston Job Corps Center
The Charleston Job Corps Center in West Virginia has constructed an elevated organic garden for the center's Culinary Arts program. The 12-foot-by-12-foot garden bed, which features a variety of plants and promotes healthy eating habits, sits 18 inches above the ground. Garden elevation provides improved drainage and air exposure for plant roots, ultimately producing significantly more vegetation. Charleston's Culinary Arts students will begin cooking with the garden's vegetables and herbs next spring, helping reduce food costs on center.