Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) grows healthy communities and inquiring minds.
Following a city wide sustainability assessment conducted in 2014, the Sustainable Boise Initiative identified key areas for improvement within local food production and promotion in the city. The City of Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department immediately set goals to improve access to local food and production by increasing urban farms, agriculture, and community gardens on city lands, and to increase garden based education within these projects.
This goal to increase access to food production and promotion was complementary to a local non-profit, Boise Urban Garden School’s mission and community programming. Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS), is a specialized, inquiry-based education organization that uses an organic garden setting as the foundation for a unique learning environment.
In December of 2015, BUGS joined the City of Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department through a partnership, making BUGS a program of the Parks and Recreation. Through this partnership the BUGS program reaches approximately 6,500 youth and adults annually. Each year the BUGS program offers multiple programs including, Youth Camps, Field Trips, Community Outreach, School Garden Training and Workshops, Community Garden Development and Management, and support for Community Gardens located at City of Boise Community Centers. Through these programs, the BUGS program provides students with knowledge through “real life” experiences. Students who, with the ability to dig in the soil, plant a seed, watch it grow and then actually taste the fruits of their labor are more likely to succeed when it comes to understanding the science behind photosynthesis or sprouting a seed.
This innovative approach to supporting the city wide Sustainable Boise initiative increased the capacity of both organizations by over 300% to serve community members through urban agriculture, community gardens, and garden based education within the first year of the partnership.
The City of Boise’s Parks and Recreation Department, BUGS program manages 9 community and educational gardens throughout the city. The City of Boise has the following goals for the BUGS program, it’s community gardens, urban farms, and garden based education:
- Increase access to local healthy foods in our community
- Increase opportunities for local farmers and gardeners to sustain urban agriculture ventures
- Implement and manage school and community gardens, education programs and volunteer opportunities
- Support city services through capital improvement projects
Through BUGS programming, participants have access to healthier food choices, culinary and science-based education, and the knowledge to teach their friends, families and communities the importance of a sustainable local food system. Boise Urban Garden School inspires young people and adults to make healthy decisions for themselves and our planet. Specific outcomes include:
- 6,500+ community members per year discover how to plant and maintain an organic garden at home or at school
- Youth and adult program participants experience additional exposure to healthy foods that they can prepare at home
- Youth participants enrolled in summer programs develop an understanding of the skills needed to create and sustain a small business through the BUGS farm stand
- A deeper appreciation of nature, food, and the power to make healthy choices for their bodies and the environment