In 2012, Okanogan Community Action has participated in school garden enrichment for East Omak Elementary.
The objective was to round out the educational experience of the existing school garden to include a more ecological component. A 'wild' area was constructed, in order to explore the possibilities of some basic permacultural concepts that were discovered in the book, Gaia's Garden.
There are plants that fix nitrogen and plants that provide forage food for birds, predatory insects, and pollinators. Many of the perennial plants were natives that were picked up through the Okanogan Conservation District Plant sale earlier in the year. Some of these plants are more drought resistant, and others are more riparian.
The ground is formed with swales, and heavily mulched in an attempt to conserve water, and provide a long term release of nutrients for plants.
The perennials will take some time to mature, and in the meanwhile, annual, self-seeding flowers have been planted by the students of an after school gardening program. The students learned how to sow from seed, transplant, and a bit about pollinators and decomposers.
Much of the garden is a mystery to the students, but the depth and possibility will increase annually, as the garden grows larger and larger. The hope is that a small ecosystem will be demonstrated -- fungi, fallen leaves, insects, healthy soil, birds, food, water conservation and beauty.
Some of the challenges have been slow decomposition of the sheet mulch. The bed was prepared spring '12, immediately before the planting of the native perennials. The result of this will be a slower process of maturity over several years -- which means that 3 or 5 years down the road, the garden will be more wild than ever.
Here are some photos: