Planting Seeds: Community Hope Grows At JB Wright Elementary Garden

boosted the community by inspiring
kids to learn while providing social and
emotional benefits. Wright teachers bring

their students outside for hands-on learning and early exposure to STEM fields

as they work together cultivating the soil
and caring for the crops.

“It’s really important to expose our
students to learning that was not just
content enriching, but improving quality
of life,” Marin said. “From farm to table,
we help our students learn about healthy
eating and the impact it has on healthy

brains… It gives the students empowerment and agency. They learn a concept,

get to apply it, and observe the outcome.”

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Students also developed critical questioning skills and a “sense of wonder.”

Marin has seen how they compete to

grow the tallest bean sprout or the biggest leaf and notice how plants change.

Marin said teachers allow their
students to explore on their own, slowly
becoming self-managing learners. As

a result, Marin noticed increased attendance and a decreased discipline rate.

“They were more excited about their
learning and it was more meaningful,”
Marin said. “They get to be outside in the
fresh air, looking at these beautiful plants,
instead of sitting behind a desk.”

The students get to reap the benefits
of their own hard work, too. Once their
harvest is fully grown, the crops go to the
school cafeteria, or straight home with
the grade-level students.
“Recently, students made a traditional

recipe for Chinese New Year with produce that we’ve harvested,” said Moses

Thompson, director of the University of
Arizona’s Community & School Garden
Program. “All the kids got a salad that

they made in their own garden.”

With the help of the UA Community
& School Garden Program, the Wright
garden feeds around 90 families a year.

Through the program, UA students
work alongside the K-12 children for six
to 12 hours per week. The UA students
experience professional development in

the ecology program while earning internship credit. They are responsible for

maintaining the gardens, working on the
harvest, and providing some educational
services to the Wright students.

“It’s an inspiring place to work and connect with the garden,” Thompson said.

“I really love that school and I really love
that community.”

Thanks to Tucson’s climate, the garden
produces harvest year-round. Different
crops are planted in different seasons,
depending on the temperature.

“Since the warm season is coming up,
we are planning to plant new crops at the
end of this month,” Thompson said. “And
it somewhat slows down from March to
the end of the school year.”

The summer harvest months, when
the students aren’t in school, depend on
scheduling. The school typically plans
the planting seasons around seeds that
will grow into harvest by the end of May.
But Marin says they can still grow crops
even when it’s hot and kids aren’t in

During the pandemic, students were
still able to work in the gardens while
remaining socially distanced.

The Wright garden has not only
provided food for local families, but has
allowed teachers and students to connect
with the natural world through their
learning experiences.

“Once the students come outside, their
whole demeanor changes,” said Wright
principal Deanna Campos in a TUSD
video. “It’s uplifting. They’re like, ‘Wow,
this is great.’ They’re peaceful, and you
can see it right away as soon as they
come into the courtyard.”

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