It’s a crisp fall day as I tour Globeville’s Garden Place Academy with Armando Payan, a nearly life-long community resident who’s enthusiastically giving me the highlights of the evolving “Learning Landscape.” It’s a massive and much-needed project for the 113-year-old elementary school that began with a schoolyard redevelopment plan and includes a community nutrition center, an outdoor classroom, an irrigated garden, streetscaping upgrades such as trees and new perimeter fencing, and more.
Armando’s been involved since the beginning and is the hands-on chair of the Garden Place Academy Advocates (GPAA) and a proud parent of 6- and 7-year-old daughters who attend the school. The Big Sandbox, a Denver non-profit that envisions a higher use for schoolyards and parks, has also united with the GPAA in their friend- and fund-raising efforts.
Together, they’re now in phase 1 of a three-phase process, which got its kick-start on Earth Day this year when over 300 volunteers from Comcast and the community showed up to clear the grounds and establish an urban vegetable garden. A unique wind-turbine, donated by Panasonic, draws your eye to that corner of the property, and you can’t help but wander over.
There, you see cisterns capturing rain water and 15 young fruit trees flanking neatly-arranged, raised beds with fresh dirt. A diagram naming individuals who have volunteered to help nurture future seedlings until harvest time is secured to the fenced entryway. Once ready, the school community of 375 children, many of whom struggle living in the midst of a food desert, will reap the benefits of fresh and accessible produce.
The Learning Landscape has received donations of almost $500,000 for its innovative, ecological revitalization efforts. $50,000 now stands between them and their goal of $546,500. $50,000 that will, in Armando’s words, help to make “smarter students, a smarter community and a smarter city.”
Indeed, a solid investment.
Join the ESGBA, which earlier this year donated 56 new laptops to Garden Place Academy and Swansea Elementary School, in fostering educational opportunities in the community! Tax-deductible contributions can be securely made online by clicking here and going to the bottom of the page. Checks in support of the project can also be made payable to:
The Big Sandbox, 777 Fillmore Street, Denver, CO 80206
Garden Place Academy Advocates, 4425 Lincoln Street, Denver, CO 80216