Campos is a sunny 5,000-square-foot community garden at 640-644 East 12th Street between Avenues B and C in Manhattan. Campos Community Garden was founded in 1983 and reorganized in 2004 by community activists. The garden is especially focused on serving neighborhood kids and growing food. The garden has held numerous environmental workshops, festivals and events for the public, from Earth Day to plant giveaways to harvest festivals. The garden is also the home of Children’s Garden at Campos, created in 2013 in the wake of Hurricane Sandy’s destruction. After Children’s Workshop School generously took it upon themselves to seek and won a grant from the Citizens Committee for New York City to help repair the garden, the garden decided to use the funds to pilot a gardening experience in a space opened up after a tree was knocked down during the Hurricane. We set out to design as unique, functional, and diverse—and fun–a children’s garden for the students to learn about gardening, food, history, science, art, and the environment.
Each stage of the project presents an opportunity for children to learn and develop a sense of personal food sovereignty: digging methods, soil health, seed starting, planting, mulching, composting, watering, plant identification, pest management, harvesting, cooking, preserving, etc.
The planting and teaching goals for this garden are:
1) To plant as much as possible without overtaxing the beds’ fertility or causing competition for water and soil;
2) To feature a broad overview of the types of plants one can grow in the garden, including methods of companion planting;
3) To create an environmental classroom to inspire stewardship of the land;
4) To give youth as much opportunity to taste and cook as many different combinations of healthy food and herbs as possible; and
5) To give youth confidence and leadership skills so they can share their knowledge and mentor other peers into making healthy food choices and taking responsibility for the future of their food system.