Laurel Valley Soils produces compost and specialty amended soils for any conceivable type of green project. We have found that every project has its own uniqueness, whether it be the type plantings, the size of the project, installation demands or site conditions.
The U School project fit the latter. Located on an asphalt lot in the food desert of North Philadelphia, the U School built a beautiful and productive food growing education garden.
A competency-based school designed to change Philadelphia youth’s college and career outcomes, not only challenges educational norms but is now challenging horticultural norms.
Currently only 18% of Philadelphia high school students make it to their 2nd year of college. By encouraging young people to create high quality projects while also giving ownership over their learning, the U School offers students the opportunity to become truly independent learners, while they engage in a challenging college-preparatory curriculum.
We Love. We Dream. We Do.
The U School has quite a vision statement – and it fits perfectly with this project. It would be a dream to grow plants on an asphalt lot in the middle of the city, right?
Tom Johnston, Principal at Think Green LLC has entered the chat. By his company’s name, you can probably guess what happened next as the DREAM became the DO.
The team created raised gardens on top of the asphalt lot using Laurel Valley Garden Soil, which is a blend of 70% Premium Compost and 30% Native Soil. This special blend provides the soil structure, organic matter, beneficial microbiology, and organic nutrients nourishing plants need to grow and flourish. And when Mother Nature forgets to rain, there are always sprinklers!
Anna Herman is the Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources Management Educator for the U School. She is a big believer that familiarity breeds comfort. Introducing her students to growing food opens up a whole new world to her city dwellers. Many of these young adults experience planting, growing and tasting their harvest for the first time, as well as seeing the various pollinators that have moved in to help with the project.
The U School contributes their bounty to food sharing programs, including fresh pantry meals, and a free “farm stand” type school-based food bank that the students run within the community.
This project is part of the USDA Sponsored People’s Garden Initiative which focuses on growing healthy food to support a resilient, local food system, teaching sustainable growing practices, and nurturing a habitat for pollinators and wildlife, while providing greenspace for students, teachers and neighbors to gather, reflect, enjoy and LOVE.