An overgrown grass courtyard at Northern High School in Durham has been converted to an urban garden, thanks to a grant from the Walmart Foundation and the Durham Soil & Water Conservation District. The multi-use Outdoor Environmental Learning Center provides valuable educational experience for Northern High School agriculture students and students in the Occupational Course of Study program, which helps disabled students focus on post-school employment and independent living.
The project came about over a year ago when teachers in the school’s Occupational Course of Study realized there was limited access for their wheelchair-hindered students in the school’s multi-use garden. The teachers partnered with the Durham Soil & Water Conservation District and the Walmart Foundation to fund the project. With help from staff, community volunteers and students, the garden was constructed and made accessible for all students with a hard, level surface and raised beds that can accommodate students in wheelchairs. Students grow and tend herbs – and soon, vegetables – used by the Culinary Arts program at Northern High School. One bed is called the “pizza garden” because the herbs are all used in creating Italian sauces.
Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten joined Durham Soil & Water Chairman Talmage Layton, representatives from Walmart and the Durham County School Board, plus Northern High School teachers and students to officially break ground in the garden April 28.