Friday, April 27, 2012

Greater DC Cares Serves at TMA

Thurgood Marshall Academy’s Garden hosted a group from Hands On: Greater DC Cares’ annual Servathon event this past Saturday! 

The Servathon is the largest service event in DC each year, and over 8,000 individuals volunteered their time during this year's events on Friday April 20, and Saturday, April 21.

No projects were too large for TMA's twenty-five volunteers—who did everything from moving raised beds, building new raised beds along the building, mulching the garden, clearing out and leveling the compost area, assembling a compost tumbler, and weeding, weeding, and more weeding! Four hours after the group started work, the garden looked amazing! Many thanks to the dedicated workers who helped improve several areas of the garden, making it more accessible and useful for our students. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

School Garden Love

On Saturday, April 14th, groups of volunteers wearing bright purple t-shirts showed up at various school and youth gardens around DC, ready to use their brain power, muscle strength, and good cheer to help these gardens better serve their student populations.

The volunteers hailed from Food Corps, an organization that places motivated individuals in limited-resource communities for a year of public service.

Food Corps Volunteers in front of the A-Frame trellis they built!

Working under the direction of local partner organizations, volunteers deliver hands-on nutrition education, build and tend school gardens, and bring high-quality local food into public school cafeterias.

Thurgood Marshall Academy was one of a few lucky school gardens around the DC area to host a group of these dedicated Food Corps volunteers. The purple-shirted school garden experts quickly set to work mixing and pouring concrete, digging holes for trellises, hammering in t-posts, and using drills and saws to build cucurbit (melon, squash, and cucumber) trellises. While they worked, Food Corps volunteers talked with TMA students and staff about their years of service in school gardens throughout the country.
TMA Senior Justice Long talks with a Food Corps Volunteer.

At the end of the volunteer day, the group stood back and surveyed their accomplishments: together they’d built two large A-frame trellises, two pea trellises, and a berry trellis; weeded and tilled the fruit orchard and five raised beds; and re-filled the garden’s rain barrels. We were sorry to see them leave, but are excited to hear about their many accomplishments in the coming months!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Out of the Classrom and Serving the Community

In the midst of a week of DC-CAS testing, AP practice tests, and college tours, juniors spent their Thursday and Friday mornings volunteering in the nearby community.  On Thursday, students made the short trip to Congress Heights to partner with Behrend Builders from the DC Jewish Community Center to beautify the gardens and courtyards at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, which was established in 1855 as the first large-scale federally run psychiatric hospital in the United States.  Originally serving nearly 7,000 residents, it now provides residential treatment for 280 patients.  Equipped with gloves, shovels, and trowels, students pulled weeds and cleaned the courtyards of the hospital to make the outdoor spaces more enjoyable for staff, clients and visitors.

Darricka Allen proudly displays a heap of weeds.

Students spent Friday morning hauling large debris and trash from nearby Shepherd Parkway, one of DC’s most neglected wooded areas.   The steep incline and deeply embedded trash provided an extra challenge leading students to problem solve and use teamwork to drag discarded furniture, rubble, and automobile tires (some even as large monster trucks) to the top of hill and thrown into the dumpster.  Congress Heights Community Association periodically hosts clean-up days of Shepherd Parkway, follow the Restore Shepherd Parkway Community Blog and  TMA's community service blog  for dates and ways to volunteer in the future! 
Cornell Thornydyke gets help from Ms. Boehle-Silva.

A team effort at work!
In a 90 minutes, students filled a dumpster and collected this mountain of tires
D'Ionni Michals-Phillips and Kenyana Williams armed with their newly found debris

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Clean Up, Clean up, Everybody, Everywhere!

If cast onto an island, with a few pairs of gardening gloves, grabbers, and trash bags, what would you do? Members of TMA Unplugged: The Wilderness Club found themselves with these essential tools this past Saturday for a clean-up of the Potomac River watershed on and surrounding Theodore Roosevelt Island.  After meeting at TMA for an early breakfast, students traveled with Ms. Campot, Ms. Horn, and Ms. Gang to the Roosevelt Island parking lot, just off the GW parkway.  National Park Service rangers and staff from the Potomac Conservancy provided a brief introduction and safety advice before sending the group of volunteers on their clean-up areas throughout the island.  The Wilderness crew headed to the rocky shores on the south part of the island facing the Georgetown waterfront. 

Tenth grader Marcelus Newell teams up with Ms. Campot to find trash buried beneath the island's edge.
 While along the edge, Darnell Hudson worked tirelessly to procure a cardboard box deeply embedded in the muddy marsh.  With the help of Ms. Horn and the careful placement of several logs, his mission was a success.  Check out his efforts below!

Ms. Horn and Darnell sizing up the situation.
Almost there....
Mission Accomplished!

Students also earned community service for their participation—a good chance to secure a few final hours before the end of the year.  For future events with The Wilderness Club, come join our meetings on Friday mornings and for more volunteer opportunities with Potomac Conservancy, check out