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Cultivating Creativity on the ACT Rooftop

Adult students grow together during the Art of Gardening

Every summer, adult students excitedly sign up for our annual Art of Gardening class. On ACT’s own rooftop garden, students learn how to garden and watch it flourish all summer. Gardening is used as the focus of the class to explore a variety of creative experiences!

Students began the summer with planting fruits and veggies in the raised garden beds on our rooftop garden. They placed labels next to each plant to keep track of what they planted. As the summer went on, students took care of the garden by watering, weeding, and harvesting what they had grown.

Every Tuesday, ACT students came ready to garden and create art with their friends. Classes started off with going over the plan for the week, since there was always so much to do! Students often began with watering the garden, and harvesting what had grown in the last week.

Long time Art of Gardening student, James Dykstra, is almost able to teach the class himself at this point. In fact, he led many guests on tours during ACT’s Open House back in August. James shared that he most enjoyed “…learning about the different plants that you’d never known that have so many varieties of basil and mint”. This year, we grew four varieties of mint: orange, chocolate, apple, and spearmint; And two varieties of basil: lemon and cinnamon.

After working in the garden, the class sessions focused on creating visual art projects inspired by what they had seen in the garden that day, or incorporating the harvested fruits and veggies into meals in culinary classes.

During visual arts, students had opportunities to create garden-inspired art. They explored many mediums including clay, pastels, plaster, and more! Favorite projects included making fruits and veggies out of pipe-cleaners and plaster, and using oil pastels to draw flower arrangements that they made.

At the peak of the season when the garden was bursting with fruits and veggies to harvest, professional culinary artists taught culinary classes using what had grown in our own garden! This year, Zenobia, co-owner of Cellar Door Artisan Preserves, taught students how to make herb-infused simple syrup to make flavored lemonade! The students picked herbs growing from the garden that they thought would be good in their lemonade. They decided to make 2 different simple syrup flavor combinations - one had fennel and mint, and the other had thyme, basil, and sage.

Last week, the Art of Gardening class culminated with a Harvest Party! Family and friends came to see what the students had been working on this summer. Students gave tours of the garden, displayed the visual art pieces they had worked on, and tasted fresh fruits and veggies, including simple syrup saved from the culinary arts lesson!

When asked about his favorite part of Art of Gardening, James shared, “It takes a lot of work from everyone to keep [the garden] going”. He enjoyed seeing the reward from all of the hard work as the plants grew bigger and were ready to harvest.

As the summer comes to an end, we are sad the gardening class is over but are looking forward to Art of Gardening in summer 2023! We thank our adult students for their hard work as we look forward to welcoming elementary-aged students later this month for gardening-themed field trips to our studio!

This is your last chance to sign up for fall adult programs! Learn more about adult programming at ACT:

These programs are supported in part by Amway.

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