Growing it Forward

Roberts Academy receives Community Award

Chris Smyth, Price Hill Will with Superintendent Mary RonanRoberts Academy partners with Price Hill Will, and its Sustainability Coordinator Chris Smyth, on a project aimed at a long-term vision of turning Price Hill into a “green" place to live.

At Roberts, Smyth helps with the work started on the Roberts Community Garden, with the goal of expanding it. The garden now has two large, production-style, annual bed spaces, and three large perennial bed spaces. The annual beds rotate between annual crops such as corn, peppers, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, cilantro, basil, tomatillos, etc. The perennial beds have many unique and specifically chosen plants that help keep the system of the garden stable, such as food crops, medicinal plants, beneficial attractants and nutrient cycling plants, as well as several small fruit trees. The Roberts Community Garden is in phase one in terms of plant maturity.

Smyth would like to partner with other groups to move the garden toward becoming a bilingual education and inclusion model. This would mean that the Hispanic community already at work in the garden would invite non-Spanish-speaking people to farm and to learn about gardening as they practice speaking Spanish, and the Spanish speakers would practice speaking English.

Long-Term Goals

A long-term goal is to establish the Hillside Orchard Project. On the Roberts campus’ north hillside, a Food Forest is in the works as an educational tool and a nursery site for future larger food plantings across Price Hill, as well as a community spot to gather larger fruit crops that may not fit in an apartment window, such as a persimmon tree.

These two projects and the Metropolitan Sewer District’s redesign of Roberts’ front yard seem to be an expression of Roberts’ desire to see more natural teaching elements implemented on the school’s campus.  

Price Hill Will's work is to build the site, set the patterns of human interaction, and then give the project over to Roberts once people are comfortable running it on their own. Both of these sites are utilized by community members and are a service to the school but not a burden on the school.

Roberts Academy also was integral to another Price Hill Will project, Grow it Forward, for which Price Hill Will and Roberts Academy won the Innovation Award. This is a decentralized community garden for people to use at their homes. Price Hill Will helps people build garden beds in their yards, and, in exchange, the recipients help three other people do the same. Roberts provided space for bulk materials to be stored for this project. Some of the families involved in Grow It Forward also came to help out at the Roberts Community Garden.