I am launching this kickstarter to raise the funds for transforming my detached garage into an urban farm schoolhouse for my community. After an amazing first year, I think I can safely say that urban farm school was a hit! I didn't know what would happen when I opened my doors for my first class, but you showed up and got your hands dirty in that class and in the ones that followed. We sowed seeds, thinned and transplanted seedlings, talked tomatoes, shared meals, canned carrots, built trellises and even crafted a few botanical beverages together. Farm school allowed us to finally connect in person. It brought neighbors together for the love of homegrown food. The classes allowed us to problem solve together and learn from each other. It's been a community affair for sure and I have loved every minute of it! And now, it's time to grow.
My idea for a beautiful and bright urban farm classroom came to me during a class when we were packed like sardines into my living room on mismatched dining room chairs. Everyone was so engaged I think I'm the only one who noticed. This could be even better. The light bulb that went off in my head was brighter than the one in my dingy, unfinished detached garage. I went out to the garage and looked around. I saw a blank canvas and wondered, what if...? And like most of my dreams, I just couldn't shake it. My schoolhouse classroom was coming to life in my imagination!
Since then my vision has exploded and I am constantly day dreaming about what farm school will be like once we have this schoolhouse. I imagine all kinds of people learning and growing together in a professional space that entices leaders in this field to come and share their experience and expertise with our community.
What will it be like?
I imagine a space where students can build their understanding
of a concept and then go outside and actually put it in action in the yard just a few steps
away. It melts my heart when I think about how we'll be able to hear the
chickens' soft gurgling sounds as we learn. The potting benches lining the
walls will allow gardeners to engage in all kinds of hands on activities. Everyone will be working comfortably side by
side doing everything from transplanting seedlings to setting mosaic glass in
stepping stones for their own gardens. It is a space where seasoned urban
farmers deepen their skills, while new gardeners find a place to
start and build the confidence they need to dig in. I can see this community
space in my mind as clear as day and when I imagine standing in the real thing
my heart begins to sing!
I have no choice but to move forward to make this dream a
reality. There is no stopping this passion now! It's too late for that. I can
imagine that 30 days from now or even sooner, this project will be fully funded
and I will be celebrating, knowing that come springtime this schoolhouse will
be a thriving fixture in this community, doors open and eagerly serving urban
farmers like you and me!
Where Will the Money Go?
After doing my research for this project, I chose to set the goal amount, $12,815, on the conservative side. I appreciate every dollar you contribute up to and possibly over the goal. I will stretch every dollar raised as far as I can stretch it in order to make this schoolhouse a professional learning space.
So, what will the money pay for exactly?
Insulation, Garage Door Panel, Drywall and Paint - These are critical to finishing the space and creating a warm, draft-free working environment that we can use year-round.
Electricity (Outlets + Lighting) - Overhead lighting in the main space and pendant lights above the potting benches will give us light to work with, even during the winter months.
Reinforced Roof - Adding reinforcing beams to the ceiling will prepare the roof to support the weight of honeybee hives for future beekeeping classes!
Floor Treatment - An epoxy seal on the floor will provide a safer space for students and allow for faster, better clean up of everything from dirt to bits of mosaic glass.
New Picture Window - A window installed on the west side of the garage will let more light into the classroom as well as provide a view of the chicken coop and principle teaching garden.
Built-in Potting Benches with Stools - Two built-in potting benches will give us plenty of workspace for hands-on classes. Stools will allow students to work more comfortably, which is especially important for longer classes like mosaic.
Seating - During the instructional portion of the classes, stools just won’t do.
Multi-Media Package with Internet Access for Enhanced Instruction - Photos and video tutorials bring a lesson to life. These tools will help: a large white board, an overhead projector, a sound system, and a presentation mirror over the demonstration table.
Storage and Hardware - Compact and efficient storage systems will store class materials, tools, and gardening supplies freeing up more space for learning.
Fees - Kickstarter applies a 5% fee to funds collected and Amazon Payments collects a 3-5% processing fee.
Who Will Benefit From the Schoolhouse?
The focus of Seattle Urban Farm School has been and will likely continue to be on empowering adult learners to grow their own food. Even though I am an elementary school teacher by day, my farm school passion is around inspiring gardeners like I have been inspired. I get excited about creating classes that I would want to take! I also strive to create classes that people in my community request. When I get a question or inquiry about a certain topic, I start creating a class around that desired interest. This is a community-inspired endeavor!
Right now, I am able to host eight gardening students in a typical farm school class in my living room. The schoolhouse space in the garage will allow me to host up to 14 students in a class, giving me the opportunity to accommodate more eager learners!
The urban farm school and schoolhouse will not only serve the gardeners in my neighborhood of Maple Leaf, but will also reach gardeners in and around the Seattle area.
Risks and challenges
I think my biggest challenge around this project will be the number of hours involved in bringing it to completion. From the things I can do during the initial construction phase to reduce costs there, all the way through the detail and finishing work on the room, I recognize that this is a huge project. As a teacher with a full time commitment to a classroom of 5th graders, I won't be able to go this alone, even when I spend every waking hour after school and on weekends working on my punch list.
Overcoming this challenge is maybe one of my biggest opportunities to grow professionally and personally. I have the chance to ask for support, to believe enough in myself and what I have to share to get over myself and actually ask for and allow support in my life. I want to give, share and work with my community. It's amazing how it can be so easy to offer and give support and at the same time such a challenge to ask for and allow support from others. Being a part of a community means all of it. I am learning and growing like everyone else and support is a big part of that for me. I’ll overcome the time challenge by allowing more of that community love and spirit in my life.
I also recognize that all big projects, even the ones with the most detailed plans, have unforeseen costs and additional tasks that will likely arise during the process. Though I can't predict what those may be, I know I am creative and resourceful and will tackle any bump along the way to make this project happen. I also know that I have built a lot of strong partnerships with people in my neighborhood and urban farming community who would likely help me solve any problem I run into along the way.
My focus has been and will likely continue to be on empowering adult learners to grow their own food. Even though I am an elementary school teacher by day, my farm school passion is around inspiring gardeners like I have been inspired. I get excited about creating classes that I would want to take!
What I love about the urban farm schoolhouse and what I think makes it a unique business in the community is the fact that the learning takes place where urban farming is actually happening. If I teach a class on raising backyard hens, we can step right outside of the classroom and look at the coop and the chickens in action. That way, students have the opportunity to see a working system, get ideas for their own build/design, and can get questions answered by seeing it live. You can’t imagine my excitement when I think about the opportunity to learn about beekeeping and then being able to see a couple live hives on the roof! Talk about a lesson coming alive!
I have a lot of gardening and teaching experience under my belt, which I bring to the table as a farm school instructor. I not only contribute to the class offerings by teaching, but also have a strong understanding of what makes a quality lesson and effective instruction, which will come into play when I create a community of farm school instructors. I will continue teaching farm school classes as well and will also facilitate classes taught by local (and national) experts in the field in order to help gardeners develop and grow their own urban farms. I already have lots of potential urban farming instructors that are ready and willing to teach classes on various skills like raising urban farm animals (chickens, rabbits, quails), beekeeping (honey bees and mason bees), cultivating mushrooms, seed saving, soap making, and more! My passion is centered on inspiring and supporting adults in their urban farm journey.
The Blossom - You get The Seed and I’m going to make you a ceramic tile mosaic flower stone to add beauty to your patio or garden. I will make each one of these beauties by hand, especially for you! These flowers live forever!
The Harvest - As a master food preserver and two-time blue ribbon winner, I know my way around a canner! I’ll show you how fun and easy it is to preserve your harvests! You and three friends join me one evening for a private canning class! We’ll set up a time and discuss what you’d like to learn to preserve, and I’ll show you how easy it can be.
The Garden Gnome - This one is super special. Your generosity comes back to you as a custom mosaic garden stepping stone with a design of your choice. Each stone is made from recycled, tumbled stained glass. You may notice some ridges on some of the pieces of glass that were once part of a bottle. These functional stones bring beauty, joy, and whimsy to your garden year-round.