DREAM BIG. ACT BIGGER.
GARDEN YOUR OWN GROWTH
The Garden Your Own Growth (GYOG) program is focused on educating children, schools, and families on how to grow their own food and work as a community to provide an economic return from the produce grown.
The GYOG program started in 2012 with a partnership with the Loveworks after-school program in Norman, OK. Earth Rebirth volunteers helped install raised beds, a greenhouse, rain barrels, irrigation, and more. Soon after, the goal of the GYOG program became to establish a garden at every school in Norman and have those gardens work together to sell food to their own cafeteria provider. Since then, the GYOG program has expanded to 17 school gardens, 15 of which in Norman, OK.
In 2014, the GYOG program partnered with Norman High school students to fundraise and construct an aquaponic system. Aquaponics gardening is the practice of using fish in a closed-system, soil-less garden cycle. On average aquaponics gardening uses only 10% the water and grows 2-3 times as fast as traditional gardening. The Norman high aquaponic system has been serving food to the cafeteria, the food pantry program, the Norman farmer's market and to student families for three years now. Earth Rebirth now have four aquaponics systems spread across our GYOG network, including the two schools outside of Norman - Sante Fe South Charter School (OKC) and Colorado Charter High School (Denver, CO).
The unique aspect of the GYOG education services is the hands-on, unparalleled attention given to each school. School gardens have regular garden checkers made up of GYOG volunteers and interns that receive class credit from the University of Oklahoma for working with Earth Rebirth for the semester. Schools help the GYOG team design a specific education plan for their garden so it can get the most use from their students. For example, McKinley Elementary and Lincoln Elementary partnered with Earth Rebirth to have the GYOG team come out and teach lessons in the garden weekly. Once a week, GYOG volunteers work with students in the garden learning the STEM-based curriculum and maintaining the garden. GYOG curriculum is open-source and compiled of garden lessons designed by reputable groups all over the country. Teachers can gain access to GYOG curriculum for free and are encouraged to add to it so their garden can be used as the classroom as often as possible. On a given day, Earth Rebirth's GYOG volunteers will work with 250-300 students in four-hour time period. Ages served with our curriculum spans all the ways from Pre-Kindergarten to University-level. The demand for our GYOG education services has grown so strong, that 25+ schools around Oklahoma have requested our services and are on a waiting list.
The GYOG consulting services expanded when a teacher approached Earth Rebirth volunteers while gardening at a school and asked, "would you do this at my home with my child?"
The GYOG consulting team offers free evaluations for schools, homes, businesses, churches, neighborhoods, and anybody in between to help them plan their ideal garden, its scope, and the costs. Paid services to set up gardens, maintain gardens, offer technical support, vacation maintenance, etc. are offered and the proceeds help support efforts to set up new school gardens and improve GYOG curriculum. To date, the GYOG consulting team has helped over 60 home and business clients move towards their garden goals. These clients are considered a part of the GYOG network and are considered GYOG family (alongside the schools) as we work towards community production.
One of the unique objectives of the GYOG program includes the wide variety of ways the garden produce is used in the community. Regularly volunteer families and students enjoy the food. In addition, food is donated to the food pantry programs at the schools for families in need. Food is also distributed through the Farmer's Market and Food and Shelter for Friends when extra produce is available during the summer months. The most unique opportunity for school gardens comes with the chance to sell food to their own cafeteria supplier. Earth Rebirth plans to operate both as a booster club and as a produce distributor for school gardens to sell food to their own cafeteria supplier. The cafeteria supplier purchases food grown at the schools through Earth Rebirth as a distributor. The school gardens are then compensated for total produce provided to their own cafeteria supply. This system allows school gardens to make a profit off of the supply of food THEY consume. These funds can be used to expand gardens to increase productivity, classroom resources, individual scholarships, and more. Given that Oklahoma has cut education funding more than any other state in the country since 2008 and 3 out of 5 students in Oklahoma are on assisted or reduced lunch programs - this is a program is a problem solver.