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Green & Grow Apprentice Sam described his preparedness for Dewey installation week: “All those learning sessions in the classroom, how to do this and how to do that, and where to put things, that all paid off when we went to Dewey.  We already knew what we were doing, all we had to do was just do it.”  With help from our partners, Youth Build Boston, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), we constructed and installed a rain garden and 10 raised planting beds in only four days.

On day one, Tuesday, April 16, we met the awesome folks of Youth Build Boston and they showed us how to measure, cut, and assemble the 4’’x4’’ pieces of lumber to create beautiful raised beds. The beds were fully assembled by Wednesday.

Carla, of Youth Build, showing Randi, of Green & Grow, how to measure the lumber

Noelia, a Green & Grow Apprentice, cutting the lumber after instruction from Youth Build Boston’s Josh

Thursday was all about moving soil!  Each raised bed received 3 cubic yards of rich organic soil; it took us about 20 wheel barrow loads to fill each bed.  We then switched tasks and excavated an area of about 12 cubic yards of soil for the rain garden.

Sam and Randi, filling the raised beds and Hughes behind them with another load!

It was a lot of hard work; so, when Friday came—and there was still some digging to do—the youth were happy to see that help had arrived!  EPA volunteers arrived in droves, very eager to help.  Youth Build and Green & Grow folks were excited to teach the EPA volunteers about the project and the work they had been doing all week.  In Francisco’s words, “It felt good to show people what we’ve learned over the months, and to share what you’ve struggled with.  It feels good because they are learning, and we’re learning as they learn—the people from the EPA were wonderful.”

Special thanks to the EPA for helping us to build the rain garden

After all the rain garden plants (such as: Veronicastrum, Rudbeckia, Iris, and Fothergilla that like lots of water) had been installed, we ate a delicious lunch donated by Bon Me and celebrated Earth Day to the sounds of the EPA band, the Hazardous Constituents.

Green & Grow even hosted a table at the event, sharing their knowledge of worm bins with the visiting families.  We found out very quickly that a big green bin with holes punched in the side attracts children of all ages and our visitors were excited to learn how easy it is to compost in their kitchen.  Excited children left parents saying, “I think I’ll try this at home!”

Noelia, showing off our classroom pets, the worms

Earth Day was a huge success, thanks to all of the help we received from our community partners and the dedication and hard work of the youth involved in the project.  In Green & Grow Manager Kent’s words, “Being around so many hard working, positive, young people and doing something that is beneficial to the community, and cross-beneficial to the groups involved,  is so energizing—it’s so important that youth recognize their potential to have a positive impact on their community and the environment; and, I think we’ve demonstrated how capable young people are with this project.”