Media Minute – Gardening and Horticulture

An elementary student explores plants growing out of planter that grows plants in a four square foot space.

TSBVI students learn how to care for the Earth. This Media Minute post features students across departments creating and tending gardens, planting for community service, nurturing a new vertical green space, and working at the Sunshine Community Gardens.

TSBVI leases the land north of campus to the Sunshine Community Gardens (SCG), which has been in existence since 1979 with over 200 plots on about 3 acres of land. At SCG, students across teams and departments tend multiple garden plots year round. The food harvested from the garden is used in weekly Farm-to-Table meals served by Comprehensive Programs students at the campus Bistro. Students in Summer Programs visit SCG to explore the plots and also gather lettuce and herbs to feed the animals in the Animal Care Center on campus.

Residential Instructors and students work together to beautify the outdoor spaces surrounding the dorms. The Venture Crew, led by Residential Instructor, Aimee, tackled a recent gardening project over the course of the 2022-2023 school year by clearing a plot, pulling weeds, setting a weed barrier, building a planter, and filling it with soil. According to the Residential Instructors, “Gardening helps the environment by absorbing air pollutants and provides food. It also is a great way to increase vitamin D, boost your mood and builds community!”

In the fall of 2022 TSBVI won a Farmstand from Lettuce Grow! The Farmstand provides a garden in four square feet and addresses barriers such as space, climate, and growing expertise.  According to the TSBVI Facebook post about our Lettuce Grow, “Short Term Programs Principal, Sara Merritt, known for her green thumb, was instrumental in completing our grant submission and the staff was thrilled to plant seedlings in the Farmstand.” The STP classes have been caring for the Lettuce Grow.

For the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service, TSBVI students and staff have helped plant trees in Bastrop county following forest fires. In 2015, TSBVI students volunteered to help reforest the fire damaged Bastrop State Park. Over 300 trees were planted that year. In 2016, Patti Robinson, long-time staff member of over 40 years, reported on our contribution: “The TSBVI group arrived in Bastrop at about 10:50 a.m. and were met by some Lion Club volunteers, most of the TSBVI Business Office, and some of TSBVI Information Resources. All of TSBVI Human Resources, and teachers and staff from teams 5 and 6 rode on the buses from the MLK kick off at the University of Texas. We had a brief orientation by the park ranger and an early lunch at the park, then we went to the work site where we had a safety orientation and planting demonstration. We all had a wonderful time planting the Loblolly Pine trees. We planted 538 trees in about 1.25 hours! At 2 p.m. we turned in our tools and got back on the bus for Austin. What a day to remember, we smiled all week.”

Comprehensive programs students in vocational programming have assembled PVC pipes to be used in garden troughs for horticulture projects on campus. EXIT students have grown plants for garden sales through the years. We have photos of our old greenhouse which used to be behind the old vocational building. Check out the Plant Sale of 2003!