Tag Archives: community

A Garden Growing In Hornell

At the Hornell Area Concern for Youth, creating a garden has been a fun, educational, and nutritional piece of our summer program for the last six years.

We like to experiment with a variety of vegetables in our raised beds, and it’s been a learning experience. We have always grown tomatoes; the year that the region experienced wide-spread tomato blight, we used it as an opportunity to teach our students why and how blights can occur.

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Last year, with the start of the Garden of Fire program, our gardening projects reached new heights. Ian, from Tanglewood Nature Center, came to us early on to get us started for growing season in a whole new way. He taught the students about our particular type of soil, and how geological changes like glaciers can affect the richness and nutrient content of soil in a given region.

He taught us so many things we hadn’t considered in the past, including preserving our vegetables to eat all-year-round. We learned to can our vegetables last year, turning cucumbers into delicious pickles, and our beautiful tomatoes into spaghetti sauce. Those were treats that we have enjoyed all winter.

Now it is time to start anew for this year. We have been so busy with our spring programming, that admittedly we got behind the growing schedule. Amazingly – count our lucky stars – Paul Shephard Jr., our Special Projects Coordinator, received a call from a group looking for volunteer opportunities.

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The camp counselors, all twelve of them from Camp Stella Maris came with gardening tools in hand to help us take control of the garden again. They took on the enormous task of weeding, adding organic fertilizers, and disposing of the grass. Then, with the aid of our youth center participants, the group planted a beautiful garden.

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We are now prepared for another eventful summer of learning about the garden and how it can be a rewarding hobby. It really feels like the first days of summer when we look at the garden and it is weeded and planted. Now to keep it that way!

In a few weeks we will be building new garden beds for the Wimodaughsian Free Library in Canisteo.

Happy planting to all of the other gardeners out there!

GoF Featured in NYSAN Learning Brief

We’re very excited to be featured in the New York State Afterschool Network (NYSAN) Learning Brief highlighting summer learning opportunities across the state. Find the full brief and additional fact sheets here. Find us on page 5!

We couldn’t say it better ourselves, so here it is straight from NYSAN:

“There is a well-documented need for a statewide, coordinated system of youth programs that operate outside of school hours, including before and after school, and during weekends and other school breaks, to provide high-quality, enriching experiences that contribute to the learning and healthy development of youth. Given their sizable impact on young people, summer learning opportunities must be a critical component of this system. However, far too many children have little or no exposure to the safe, supervised learning and enrichment activities that summer programs can provide.

“Summer experiences help meet the needs of all children; this is especially true for children from traditionally underserved communities, including children of color, those from low-income families, and children living in rural areas. Research shows that summer learning loss is a significant contributor to the achievement gap; students from low-income families typically lose two to three months in reading achievement and two months of math skills during the summer months.

Far too many children have little or no exposure to the safe, supervised learning and enrichment activities that summer programs can provide.”

Well said! And Happy Friday!

Synergy Through Artistic Collaboration

Under the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Challenge America grant, a new public art piece is under way.

I (Amy Ruza, Education Programs Coordinator at The Rockwell) am collaborating with metal artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from Hammondsport, NY to create a sculpture made from glass, metal and natural materials. We’ll celebrate the unveiling of the artwork at the Garden of Fire Festival, held at CareFirst this coming August 2015. We are combining our glass-blowing and metal-working skills to fabricate a mixed-media sculpture that connects to the themes of the summer youth program.

Amu Ruza gathers glass to create a glass squash.
Artist and educator Amy Ruza gathers glass to create a glass squash.

The carefully-planned design puts a twist on the traditional Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) “Three Sisters” crops: corns, beans and squash. The sculpture will also invoke the importance of wind in gardening, related to pollination, and the use of wind energy to help sustain plant growth.

The sculpture is still in its early stages, but imagine this:
A tall sunflower with a glass center,  surrounded by spinning metal petals. Below, spherical glass peas in metal pods, along with a glass squash plant with large, twisty metal leaves and vines.

These colorful glass mandalas will represent the centers of the sunflowers.
These colorful glass mandalas will represent the centers of the sunflowers.

The blown-glass parts were made at The Studio at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning. Tony and Gwen will fabricate the metal parts at their home studio. The completed sculpture will be relatively easy to install and de-install, making it a non-permanent sculpture with the goal of being re-exhibited at multiple locations around the region.

While it is certainly necessary for youth to create art themselves, it is equally as important to expose them to professional-quality, contemporary, artistic creations.   Art inspires us by provoking creativity, an awareness of new ideas, and giving us an experience that engages all of our senses, enlightening our spirits and connecting us as people. 

Participants will recognize artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from their participation in last year's Garden of Fire program.
Participants will recognize artists Tony Moretti and Gwen Quigley from their participation in last year’s Garden of Fire program.

The sculpture will show how artists from different backgrounds can work together to create something harmonious to share with the world.

We are grateful for this artistic opportunity to stay involved in the community as artists and to have this chance to work together to experiment with new ideas.  Receiving the NEA grant has opened up a creative doorway into a new collaboration with exciting, technically challenging and inspiring ideas to interweave blown glass, metal and other natural materials.

Stay tuned for the completion and unveiling of this sculpture at the Garden of Fire celebration on August 14, 2015!

Amy Ruza
Education Programs Coordinator
The Rockwell Museum

Cultivating Creativity

Together we can care for our most precious gifts: the earth itself and the children who live on it. 

The word ‘culture’ comes from the  Latin word cultura – with literal meanings tied to agriculture, and figurative connotations of care and honoring. And, from past participle stem colere which means “tend, guard, cultivate, till”.

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The development of culture takes constant tilling, constant caring – it is the “garden” that we can grow especially through teaching and caring for younger generations. Each seed that we plant through the art and science projects provided through the Garden of Fire program has the potential of blossoming into a deeper understanding of life in a young person’s mind and heart. As “gardeners” leading the project forward, staff from the nine partnering agencies are working together to create a model for a collaborative and creative culture.

It is crucial for young people to understand that they are not alone in their experience of daily life and it is only with this awareness that the healing of individuals and society can take place. Collaborative art and gardening activities can lift spirits, promote communication, improve common understanding and boost social skills. Through collaborative projects, a structure for building community emerges.

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The Rockwell Museum, which serves as the lead agency for the Garden of Fire program, is embedded in local history and connected through its images and objects to many cultures of the United States.  Through the Museum collection, the American experience in all its complexities comes alive. With education at the heart of our mission, The Rockwell is dedicated to serving youth that may not have other alternatives for arts education by opening boundaries between museum, school and community.

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Our work with schools and non-profits is designed to help ensure that all children have successful experiences as they grow up in our community.   In the face of a rapidly changing world and ever more prevalent societal crises we are committed to creating opportunities for people of all ages to delight in, and find solace in, the truth, beauty, and joy of art and art making. It is so energizing to have partners in these endeavors through the Garden of Fire program!

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It is my hope that the model program we have collectively created will spark the imagination and action of other communities to build their own Garden of Fire. Together we can care for our most precious gifts: the earth itself and the children who live on it.

Gigi Alvaré
Director of Education
The Rockwell Museum