With fall coming to an end and winter following close on its heels, we just wanted to share some of the changes to our Earthworks garden space that took place this year thanks to a generous grant from the Youth Conservation Corps.
We hired a crew of six young adults ages 18-25, and this amazing team of men and women helped transform this special place. We focused all summer on garden maintenance (the Corps members learned about organic and sustainable gardening practices); we planted vegetables, flowers, several container gardens, and some hanging baskets; we added three new perennial garden beds near our covered patio area at the garden entrance; and we added some bulbs for late winter and early spring color in the garden next year. We practiced sheet mulching techniques to improve the soil in some areas of the garden, as well as initiating some soil erosion control procedures in threatened areas. The Corps members also each designed and implemented a daily program in the garden for the children visiting the museum; topics included learning about ants, the secret life of flowers with sun catcher making, solar cars (building and racing), learning about the bugs in our gardens and a simple hydroponic experiment using recycled 2-liter soda bottles as a submerged irrigation planter.
Other major projects this year included clearing and leveling a plot of land at the back of the garden where we built ten raised beds for the start of our new community education garden. We tore down the old grape arbor which was rotting and had become unsafe, and the Corps members worked with our facilities manager to build a new shade structure (we were able to preserve our 20 year old grapevines.). We built an outdoor classroom space, which required tearing down old sheds, removing fencing, building another raised bed for education programs, putting in a corral fence and installing a flagstone patio. (We really look forward to utilizing this new space next year!) Finally, we added some “way finding” features such as our new sign post at the garden entrance directing visitors to various exhibits in the garden (look for exhibits “coming soon”!), and flagstone walkways which will guide museum patrons to areas of the garden that were previously underutilized and not obviously marked as areas to explore.
The final component this consequential grant allowed us to offer our YCC Corps members was a series of workshops led by various organizations and professionals in our community including conflict resolution and team building led by our Director of Operations; CPR and first aid training with Ken Parker; Early Childhood Development and Outdoor Play with one of the museum founders, Ellen Biderman; Adobe plastering by Cornerstones Community Partnerships; Climate change and water conservation by Steve Rudnick, PhD; we had tour of the Santa Fe Botanical Garden with instruction on plant identification, erosion control, and planting in Northern New Mexico; financial literacy facilitated by Homewise; and lastly the Corps members had a workshop on resume building, cover letter writing , and interviewing do’s and don’ts, to help them on the next step of their journey.
It was an amazingly productive summer! New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps grants allow us to consistently bring improvements to our Earthworks Garden space while training the youth of New Mexico in sustainability and conservation practices. We hope you enjoy all of the new editions. Come visit us soon!