King Cares Revitalizes Local Community Garden
King Cares Revitalizes Local Community Garden

It was a chilly February day in 2020 when students from the King Cares B1C Homework and Activities Club recognized the potential in the space outside the Building One Community (B1C) center. Maybe some window boxes would brighten the space and improve the view for the B1C community. The students continued to deliberate, and what started as a discussion about flower pots, grew into a community garden called “Common Ground.”

King Cares Plants Community Garden

“As James Raidt and I brainstormed ideas around this garden with other club members, we decided to plant an assortment of vegetables, create colorful and meaningful signs, and even decorate birdhouses for hanging,” said Bryce Heaton, who along with James serves as this year's co-club leader. “We brought the ideas to the community, and it was amazing to see classmates join in making this garden come to life.”

Work on the garden began in February and continued with seasonal projects, including a recent fall cleanup as students replaced the summer herbs and vegetables with fall mums and spring bulbs.

The B1C garden is a window into the dynamic of the King Cares program, which is driven by student initiated ideas and thrives on partnerships that deepen King’s presence in the community.

“The garden is the result of the students' coordination and collaboration in partnership with B1C,” said Karen Raidt, Director of King Cares and Student Services. “The kids are collaborating, brainstorming, and problem solving with each other and B1C, while also building relationships within the community. They are sharing and learning and meeting families within the community, and those relationships initiate new ideas.”

King Cares has a community-wide network allowing a synthesis between classroom curriculum, student clubs, and community partnerships. The B1C relationship serves as an example of the dynamic ways in which King Cares connects. 

A conversation between Raidt and history and social sciences teacher Laura Bowe led to an introduction to B1C Volunteer Director Margarita Zimmerman who then served as a guest speaker in Bowe's classroom. The students Zimmerman addressed then visited the B1C community, which sparked the interest of several students who then joined the B1C Homework and Activities Club.

“Our partnership with King Cares has been a very enriching one,” Zimmerman said, listing a few other events King students and families contribute to including the annual "Thanksgiving Family Nights" and "Afternoon at the Movies" with the B1C community. “The impact of the garden beautification has been huge. King Cares literally brought it back to life. Our staff frequently comment on how pretty and fresh it looks as they look out the windows and they go out to that area to take breaks during the day.”

James shares Zimmerman’s enthusiasm about the project's outcome.

“When we were all working together at King preparing to go to B1C for the fall cleanup, it was amazing to look at all the people and all of the work that we put in to achieve the end goal of making the garden beautiful,” said James. “I really enjoyed working together with the people at B1C, it was great seeing all of our ideas come together.”

Those ideas have now yielded produce, which is shared throughout the B1C community too.

“We leave baskets out by our cafe area with the garden's bounty so any participant that walks into B1C can help themselves to cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers and more,” Zimmeman said, adding that people are encouraged to use the space whenever they like. “It's a small oasis that brings us peace and joy.”

King Cares Revitalizes Local Community Garden