Over the last nine months the Golightly Education Center Gators have been working hard in the Gator Garden.
The 2012 project called the “I’m In the DPS Garden,” was led and created by Allan Cosma, the Academic Engagement Officer at Golightly Education Center. Mr. Cosma designed a comprehension gardening program that infused mathematics, writing, science, healthy living, and entrepreneur skills with the help of Susan Bloodworth, Cheryl Vincent , and Denise Cohen. Thanks to the support of Detroit Public Schools Foundation, Michigan State Extension, 4-H Foundation, Grown in Detroit and Garden Resource Program, twenty students from Golightly Education Center and Blackwell Institute were able to travel to the 4-H Michigan State Extension Community Center garden for six weeks to learn how to calculate circumference to measure plant growth average for spacing of plants, ratios to measure scale factors for garden design layout, angles measurement to build garden bed, and architectural design concepts. After being trained 5 hours a day, the dedicated Golighlty Gators came back to Golightly Campus to teach six more students how to garden twice a week by planting 9 raised beds on the Golightly Campus full of dinosaur kale, broccoli, cabbage, collard greens, squash, swish chard, cabbage/kale and flowers for decoration.
As the garden began to sprout, the students at Golightly grabbed bundles of kale, broccoli, and collard greens and sold them at the Eastern Market through the Grown in Detroit garden collaboration program. This allowed these ambitious students to have the chance see the fruits of their labor at an actual market. The students learned how to set up, stock and run a full scale garden stand. The students sold a grand total of $150 of produce toward a celebratory field trip.
As the fall school semester approached, the excitement of Gator Garden brought the collaboration of safety squad students to support the garden program by building a raised flower bed in the shape of the initials of Golightly Education Center — “GEC” — designed by the summer students in the program. As the safety squad joined in the fun the Go Green challenge was introduced to DPS and Dr. Hobbs the Principal at Golightly. Mr. Cosma passed the challenge to the All-Star team of the Green Gators and the school Engineer Mr. Griffin. Accepting the challenge, and following the direction of the Go Green initiatives, the safeties, now called the Green Gators, have helped remove unnecessary small appliances around the school, counted and planned to replace all high energy bulbs, and reminded teachers to shut down their classrooms to save energy. The Green Gators also have proposed to start a recycling program to reduce paper waste in the school.
In the spring, the Green Gators plan to build an outdoor living garden classroom with murals designed by all of the preschool and lower homeroom students, also equipped with a small compost station, sitting areas, and dedication stones. The Green Gators plan to plant enough seeds to have a crop harvest that will supply healthy snacks to the entire school once a week for the months of June, July, and September. The Green Gators hope everyone comes to visit their energy-saving school and healthy Gator garden. During DPS Go Green Week, the Green Gators, along with Mrs. Galoni’s preschool class, fed 90 preschool and kindergarten students a fabulous taste of kale chips, freshly picked and baked by the Gator team. The Green Gators also invite everyone try their Gator Green Smoothies — coming soon — made from freshly-picked green crops.