On September 12, 2023, Louise A. Spencer Elementary School, led by Principal Karla Venezia, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to unveil their new schoolyard community garden. The event was graced by the presence of esteemed guests, including Senator Teresa Ruiz (D), Newark Board of Education Superintendent Roger León, School Business Administrator Valerie Wilson, Councilwoman and President of Newark City Council LaMonica McIver, Board Member Allison James-Frison, Assistant Superintendent of the South-West Samantha Lott-Velez, Newark Board of Education Science Director Kathleen Tierney, the administrative team of Trust for Public Land, Sustainable Food Systems Program Manager of Nourishing Newark Chesha Hodge, partners from Urban Agriculture Co-Operative, Apiary in the Sky, Al-Munir, AARP, Americorps, Grace West Senior Housing, community members, families, students, and staff. The Trust for Public Land, OXO, Nourishing Newark, and Natural Ground 1 provided the necessary resources to make the outdoor learning classroom a reality.
The community garden situated at Louise A. Spencer School has significantly enriched the curriculum. The students have undergone comprehensive training and lessons on various aspects of gardening, including proper care for the garden, invasive species, pollinator gardens, healthy eating, and plant life cycles, all of which were conducted by Dena Corbin through Natural Ground 1. The students' enthusiasm, curiosity, engagement, and collaboration are evident when they work in the garden. They eagerly anticipate their first harvest, where they will have the chance to taste the fruits and vegetables and take some home to their families.