A schoolyard and neighborhood gardening initiative.
Committed to providing Oklahoma City neighborhoods, schools and community centers with opportunities to plan, grow, maintain and harvest fruits and vegetables using sustainable and environmentally sound gardening practices.
We help Oklahoma City schools and community centers to plant, grow and sustain healthy, organic food gardens while building thriving outdoor classrooms that benefit students and participants on many levels -- academically, physically, emotionally and for overall wellness.
OKC Harvest began in 2012 when two citizens, Larry Heymon and Lisa Putt, inspired by school garden programs in other states, funded, built and supported gardens at schools serving low-income kids around Oklahoma City. In 2014, OKC Beautiful partnered with OKC Harvest to provide it with more fundraising and volunteer recruitment power as well as to meet the growing demand locally for more school gardens. This partnership spearheaded the creation of 25 gardens around the city. In the fall of 2017, management of OKC Harvest became the charge of OKC Beautiful which created a paid staff position and allocated an annual budget for supporting the gardens and operating the program.
In 2017 OKC Beautiful set its sights on helping the existing OKC Harvest gardens develop more fully as outdoor classrooms rather than adding more gardens. The primary functions of the program now is to provide seeds, plants, amendments, tools and assist with seasonal maintenance as well as train teachers to utilize their gardens, connect teachers with outdoor classroom curriculum, recruit volunteers from surrounding neighborhoods and develop plans for the long-term sustainability of each garden.
Schoolyard gardens are special places. Children who spend time in outdoor classrooms experience learning in new and innovative ways. Educators use gardens to teach science, social studies, math and reading through interactive lessons. Gardening teaches school-children of all ages about making healthy choices growing fresh, local, and sustainable fruits and vegetables. Students are able to apply what they learn and observe the outcome. OKC Harvest can help school administrators develop gardening plans and support teachers in building effective lessons. We offer ongoing support to school-based community gardens.
Gardening brings neighborhoods together and helps strengthen communities. A garden can be a gathering place for residents in neighborhoods where green space might not be readily available. We can help local residents plan, and convert unused green space into healthy and bountiful food gardens. At OKC Harvest our goal is to work with local businesses, neighborhood organizations, and individuals to develop long term gardening plans. Communities benefit when people gather together to grow and share fruits and vegetables and donate leftover produce to local food pantries and homeless shelters.
Anyone who has spent time in a garden can tell you that gardening is therapy. Gardening as a community can be great, but spending time in the quiet solitude of the garden can heal body and spirit. At shelters, senior centers, special needs schools and children's hospitals, gardens offer opportunities for exercise, fresh air and spending time in the sunshine. Gardening can help improve coordination and dexterity for patients in need of mild to moderate activity. Therapy gardens also provide seniors, shelter residents and special needs children with a healthy and nutritious food source. Produce from the garden can be used in the kitchens of residential facilities or taken home by students at special needs schools.