If you’ve volunteered on a Thursday at Olivia Park Student Garden, you’ve likely met or seen Justina and her two daughters, Jasmine and Violet. Justina is usually wrist deep in compost and weeds, or helping kids plant seeds, while Jasmine and Violet do crafts, homework or come up with a new garden game to run around and play with the other kids.
Justina started volunteering with Farmer Frog at Olivia Park Student Garden in 2013 when her daughter Jasmine entered Kindergarten there. She loved gardening and had been an urban farmer for the past 19 years and was excited about the opportunity to teach kids about growing food while building a community of people coming together to support it.
Justina and her husband Dan are both ISA Certified Arborists who started their own business, Champion Tree Care four years ago. Busy with kids, the business, and their own home urban farm, they still somehow find time and energy to volunteer in the garden and in the classroom; teaching science and working with teachers to bring their classes out to the garden.
Beginning last year, Justina also took on the task of harvesting and preparing fresh produce from the garden each Thursday that is put into backpacks and given out to students in need of food for the weekend. So far, this year, she is preparing fresh food bags for 18 backpacks. Last year, by the end of the year, it was up to over 30!
She is proud of the work that Farmer Frog is doing to support the school, and is rewarded by the positive feedback from teachers and staff that are all working hard to ensure that the students at Olivia Park are learning and growing in a positive and safe environment. And of course eating fresh veggies from the garden that they helped to grow!
For more information on volunteering at Olivia Park or helping with the produce bags for the backpacks, please email us at Volunteers@FarmerFrog.org.