This has been an fruitful year for the Grow Your Own program; as our workshops and our garden take permanent shape, we analyze what has worked and what needs to be trashed. There is no doubt our program is growing – the numbers speak for themselves. Our participants have already topped 13,000 lb of harvested produce this year – up 3,000 from last year and climbing. I am hopeful that we will be able to get that up to 15k for a 50% harvest increase.
Our biggest problem since the program’s inception has always been retention; families get distracted and slowly wane from the workshops and their gardens as fall approaches. Deni & I are currently looking at ways to restructure the program in a way that will create a platform for more consistent contact and dialogue between participants and educator. We are also considering a mentor program for 2nd years to take on a a new participant under their wing – with the hope of facilitating stronger knowledge for second years, someone to call on for new families, and form a more solid community between participants.
As the leaves change color, I am reminded of the amount of time that has briskly passed since I started at ASD. I am thankful, daily for Deni, who has helped me navigate my passions in life, and is continually equipping me with a breadth of knowledge in a very short period of time.