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New City School

New City School: The ABCs of creating a community garden

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

Earlier this summer I found CWEnd-based illustrator Maggie Pearson (see 2013 post here) picking juneberries, aka service berries, on Euclid. She was a little sheepish about getting “caught,” as she wasn’t sure that picking berries off city trees was legal (she later found out that it’s ok).

It seems that birds had devoured berries from 15 juneberry trees on New City School’s campus at Lake and Waterman, and Maggie was scrambling to gather enough fruit to make jam for the school’s Farmer’s Market. That’s when I first learned that Maggie and another parent, Julie Lazaroff, had started a community garden at New City School the previous summer.

Their game plan, including information regarding grants they received, may offer a blueprint for others thinking of organizing a community garden at their own children’s school.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

When I followed up with a visit at the end of June, the women said this project had been on their radar for a long time. Maggie was largely responsible the garden’s design—”she has a beautiful aesthetic,” Julie said.  Julie, a dietician and yoga teacher, credits an apprenticeship at EarthDance Organic Farms with adding to her knowledge of soil preparation and plant materials.Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

Last July the “partners in crime,” as Maggie, left, and Julie, right, identify themselves, started work with encouragement from New City’s Head of School Alexis Wright and advice from Matt Lebon of Custom Foodscaping. They removed a tether ball and digging area to make room for the new garden.  The school’s groundskeeper Bill Sprung built the arbor, trellis, and planting beds. A group of 20 volunteers had the garden up and running by the start of the 2018/2019 school year.

The area is designated as additional classroom space for 1st through 6th graders. “We are teaching our kids to be Stewards of the Earth,” said Maggie. “In addition to learning how to grow food, they’re using math skills when they plant seeds, and learning lessons in environmental science as well.”

Last spring, 3rd graders planted radish seeds, then harvested and tasted them 30 days later.  Julie took the radish greens home and made pesto and quiche for the kids to sample. New City is in the process of raising funds for a maker space that would include a kitchen so that the kids can learn to cook what they grow at school.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

Photographs above: Parent volunteers at work in the garden, and snapshots of the Garden Club’s Farmer’s Markets (there were 2 last year). Proceeds from sales are used to purchase seeds and other supplies for the garden.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

The pair was able to secure two grants for their project. A grant from the Whole Kids Foundation (Whole Foods) was used for the garden’s infrastructure, and a second, awarded by Missouri Wild Ones, was used for a pollinator garden which they planted alongside the school, shown above.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

The pollinator garden at work, above.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright   Left above: New City offers outdoor classroom experiences for pre-schoolers as well. Just outside the entry to the 3-to-4 year old classrooms there are a few vegetable beds which are tended by pre-school teachers during the school year, and the garden committee in the summer. Right: Last February there was a “Chicken Arrival Party” for chickens rented from locally-owned The Easy Chicken. Fuego & Ginger (names chosen by the students) were cared for by a different grade each week. The chickens were sent home for r & r this summer, and will return in the fall.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

After all the rain we’ve had this summer, the kale and Swiss chard were flourishing when I visited. Bottom photo left: Felt “smart pots” are filled with herbs for a sensory experience. Bottom right: The committee planted strawberries as “eye candy” for the kids, hardy kiwi, blackberries, and a fig tree.Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright   Grape vines are growing on a new fence built by Julie and Maggie’s husbands at the east edge of the garden.

Over the summer vacation, committee members stop by twice a week to weed and harvest. There are three other community gardens on Waterman between Kingshighway and New City School. The granddaddy of them all is the CWE Farm which was started 10 years ago by Arthur Culbert (and which I have posted about many times). There is also a garden at Central Reform Congregation and at First Unitarian Church.

The organizers of New City’s community garden thank Arthur Culbert for his contribution of advice, plant materials, and herbs he’s brought to their garden.  Most importantly though, Culbert created a citizenship curriculum for New City 4th graders, and the food the students help plant is donated to food pantries at Trinity Episcopal Church and Second Presbyterian Church. His initiative became the catalyst for Central Reform and First Unitarian, some Westminster Place neighbors and now New City to join in the effort to feed those less fortunate in the neighborhood.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Education Food and Drink For kids Urban Gardens  New City School Matt Lebon Maggie Pearson Julie Lazaroff CWE Farm Arthur Culbert Alexis Wright

The photo above shows New City’s soccer field with a section of the garden in the foreground.

Julie and Maggie are mindful of the fact that there has to be a plan of succession when their children graduate from New City. They have begun working on a long-term integrated program with Head of School Alexis Wright.

The women are visibly proud of what they have created and excited that the garden has become a learning experience for the parents who volunteer as well.  Many have taken what they’ve learned home to start vegetable gardens of their own. That, plus seeing reluctant eaters at least taste a radish, makes it all worthwhile. “My 5-year-old, Auggie, really disliked salad until we started growing our own lettuce,” Maggie said. “Now he loves it.”

New City School, 5209 Waterman (at Lake).

 

Remembering Peasy Love, a champion of Forest Park

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Robert Duffy Peasy Love New City School Forest Park Forever

Sixty trees alongside Forest Park’s Murphy Lake, at the intersection of Lake Ave. & Lindell Blvd., have been tagged with red ribbons in honor of the late Sara Otto “Peasy” Love, a founder of Forest Park Forever,” the private, non-profit conservancy that partners with the City of St. Louis to restore, maintain, and preserve Forest Park.”

Sue Clancy, an early Forest Park Forever Executive Director and longtime board member, explained the significance of the red ribbons:  “One of Peasy’s favorite Forest Park traditions was the “Trim a Tree” project. She would engage local arborists to donate their time and energy to assist the City and Forest Park Forever with tree trimming…cutting out dead wood and shaping branches. For a small donation, FPF would put a big ribbon with the name of the donor—either your own or someone you wanted to remember—on each trimmed tree on Christmas Eve. Peasy loved Forest Park, especially the trees! She was wonderful and will be sorely missed.”

Read more on Forest Park Forever’s website.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Robert Duffy Peasy Love New City School Forest Park Forever

Here is more about Peasy’s connection to Forest Park in an excerpt from CWEnder Robert Duffy’s beautiful obituary in December 24th’s St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Forest Park is a 1371-acre natural and architectural wonderland, home to egrets, turkeys, and foxes as well as major cultural institutions and remnants of the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition and World’s Fair. Its assets include indigenous and exotic flora and fauna and extensive resources for sports and outdoor recreation. Created in the late 19th century, by the 1960s it was falling apart.

Mrs. Love and others recognized this as a huge problem, and banded together to devote time and treasure to the renovation and preservation of the park…”—leading to the establishment of Forest Park Forever.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Forest Park Urban Gardens  Robert Duffy Peasy Love New City School Forest Park Forever

Another enormous contribution to the CWE was the creation of New City School, which Peasy Love, along with other CWEnders founded almost 50 years ago, after the Religious Order of the Sacred Heart closed Barat Hall/City House which was located at Taylor and Maryland Aves.

Years ago, I would occasionally see the Loves riding their horses on bridle trails in Forest Park (long before the creation of Forest Park Forever). At the time this was a common occurrence, since several CWE families kept horses in stables on their properties. (The bridle trails were replaced by the original bike path.)  At the memorial service I learned that the Loves’ stable at one time housed some camels who were being kept—uncomfortably Peasy felt—in trailers downtown, while the circus was in town. She left a note on the trailer door inviting the camels to take up residence in the CWE, and they arrived the next day.

Peasy not only left her mark on the neighborhood and the City of St. Louis, she was extremely generous to many, many people in her quiet, elegant way. She will be dearly missed.

The do-good guide to shopping local

It’s a given that shopping local is vital to a neighborhood’s economy. Expanding on that theme, allow me to present 6 charities with ties to the CWE that would benefit greatly from your support this holiday season. 

1. Benefit local food pantries with the purchase of herbal vinegars, dried herbs, and popcorn grown and packaged by CWE farmer Arthur Culbert with the help of New City School 4th graders. Your purchase contributes to both Holy Ground Food Pantry at Second Presbyterian Church and Trinity Episcopal Church Food Pantry.

Culbert began work on the CWE Farm located on Waterman just west of Kingshighway 6 years ago. Over the years, with the help of each year’s crop of 4th graders at New City and a team of dedicated volunteers, the farm has donated tons (literally) of fresh vegetables, fruit and herbs to the neighborhood’s pantries.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Handmade Services Web/Tech  Trinity Episcopal Church Third Degree Glass Factory Silo Goods Coffee Second Presbyterian Church New City School Left Bank Books GiftAMeal CWE Farm CreateaLoop Central West End Association Central West End Arthur Culbert Angel Tree Donor

Each holiday season, students pick herbs, decorate and help fill bottles for the herbal vinegar that is sold to benefit clients of the pantries. This year’s vinegar selection features rosemary, stevia, tarragon and lavender, $10. There are also packages of dried herbs including oregano, sage, stevia, and rosemary, $4, or 3 for $10. The 4th graders grow popcorn too, lower left, which is also $4.

To purchase, contact CWE farmer Arthur Culbert: arthur.culbert@gmail.com. Orders will be hand delivered if you live close by, otherwise arrange for pick up. The products will also be available at the Crowders’ Holiday Pop-up Shop at 405 N. Euclid, Tuesday-Thursday 12 to 6, Friday-Saturday 11 to 8.

2. Help St. Louis Public School libraries at Montessori Elementary School and Patrick Henry Downtown Academy through Left Bank Books.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Handmade Services Web/Tech  Trinity Episcopal Church Third Degree Glass Factory Silo Goods Coffee Second Presbyterian Church New City School Left Bank Books GiftAMeal CWE Farm CreateaLoop Central West End Association Central West End Arthur Culbert Angel Tree Donor

Here’s how easy it is to become an Angel Tree Donor: Choose a book from the shelf that’s stationed in front of the main desk at LBB or pick one that’s appropriate for preschool to 6th grade from the neighborhood bookstore’s selection. I would imagine you can place an order by phone too.

Left Bank Books, 399 N. Euclid, (314) 367-6731.

3. GiftaMeal a phone app that makes a difference. Here’s how it works: Each time someone takes a photo in one of 10 participating CWE restaurants* (there are 90 restaurants that have signed up in the St. Louis area), GiftAMeal provides a meal to someone in need through Operation Food Search. To boost the donation, when users recommend the restaurant to friends and share their photos on social media, additional meals are provided.  And the GiftAMeal app is free.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Handmade Services Web/Tech  Trinity Episcopal Church Third Degree Glass Factory Silo Goods Coffee Second Presbyterian Church New City School Left Bank Books GiftAMeal CWE Farm CreateaLoop Central West End Association Central West End Arthur Culbert Angel Tree Donor

The GiftAMeal team is pictured above, from left: Jacob Mohrmann – CMO, Henry Cummings – Restaurant Relations, Andrew Glantz – CEO, Michael Kaushansky – Head of Business Development.

*Participating neighborhood restaurants include: Northwest Coffee, Gamlin Whiskey House, SubZero, Atlas, The Tavern, Taste of Lebanon, Tom’s Bar & Grill, Applebee’s, Wild Flower, and BBQ Saloon.

Think of GiftAMeal as “yelp with a conscience” or, how to eat your cake and share it too. Since the launch of GiftAMeal in September 2015, 15,000 meals have been donated in St. Louis and Chicago.  To learn more about how this clever charitable app was launched, read an earlier conversation with co-founder, Washington University graduate Andrew Glantz here.

3. The Central West End Association has partnered with Third Degree Glass Factory to offer an annual, limited edition commemorative holiday ornament celebrating the Central West End’s historic architectural treasures.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Handmade Services Web/Tech  Trinity Episcopal Church Third Degree Glass Factory Silo Goods Coffee Second Presbyterian Church New City School Left Bank Books GiftAMeal CWE Farm CreateaLoop Central West End Association Central West End Arthur Culbert Angel Tree Donor

 

The 2016 ornament pays tribute to the large, rose-stained glass window above the front doors of our majestic Cathedral Basilica. Purchase the ornament, $30, at these neighborhood locations: 10denza, Bissinger’s, Enchanted Embellishments, Great Frame Up/Relish Gifts, and Straub’s.

All proceeds benefit the Central West End Association.

5. Help farmers in Central America with purchase of Rudolph Gift Box from the CWE’s Silo Coffee, 4818 Washington Ave.

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Handmade Services Web/Tech  Trinity Episcopal Church Third Degree Glass Factory Silo Goods Coffee Second Presbyterian Church New City School Left Bank Books GiftAMeal CWE Farm CreateaLoop Central West End Association Central West End Arthur Culbert Angel Tree Donor

Nicki's Central West End Guide Art & Architecture Books, Dance, Music, Theater Food and Drink For Children Handmade Services Web/Tech  Trinity Episcopal Church Third Degree Glass Factory Silo Goods Coffee Second Presbyterian Church New City School Left Bank Books GiftAMeal CWE Farm CreateaLoop Central West End Association Central West End Arthur Culbert Angel Tree Donor

Here’s a perfect gift for that special coffee addict. Full of a variety of ethically-sourced items that support indigenous economies around the globe, this is another example of a gift that gives back.

The Rudolph Box, $75, includes: 12 oz Panama Indian Baru Whole Bean Coffee, Silo Coffee + Goods campfire mug, gold & terracotta necklace from Haiti Design Co-Op, woven basket from Panama, and Cup of Sunshine Tea Satchel from St. Louis-based Retrailer Tea. It’s all wrapped up in a handcrafted maple wooden box by local designer Michael Purses. To purchase and view other ethically-sourced gift items visit Silo Goods website.

6. CreateaLoop gives kids who may not otherwise have the opportunity, a chance to learn computer coding:

Founders CWEnders Darren and Danielle Jackson have created an innovative solution to one of the problems facing students who live in low-income neighborhoods. Learn how in the following video where you’ll meet confident and wise-beyond-his-years Isaiah, who has participated in the program and who shares his skills building a computer with yours truly and my friend Bobby Duffy. The big message here is that this program empowers youths to feel #NeededNotNeedy.

CreateaLoop provides a one-day a week 2-hour after-school code club for kids. CreateaLoop partners with Washington University which provides the CS 131 curriculum (intro to computer science), so each lesson a student receives is inspired by W. U.’s freshmen level course. When a parent purchases a club membership for their child LoopNet in turn provides a free membership to a student who lives in a low-income neighborhood.

*Memberships are $200/month and include a 1-week summer camp. However, donations of any amount are most welcome. Visit the website for more information.