Two peas in a pod
by Lettie Stratton, Photography by Pete Grady
The Boise Urban Garden School (BUGS) has been a staple of Boise culture and education since it got its start over ten years ago. And now, just a few months into a partnership with the City of Boise, BUGS is stronger than ever and breaking new ground on exciting projects all throughout the City of Trees.
BUGS is primarily an education-based organization that uses organic gardens as the settings for learning and as inspiration to encourage urban agriculture. Through various programs and outreach efforts, the organization teaches area youth how to plant and take care of an organic garden, what to do with produce from that garden, and even how to turn a profit on a small farm business—and much, much more.
“We’re really excited about this innovative partnership with the City and how it’s going to allow our organization to grow,” says Coordinator Erin Guerricabeitia, who joined BUGS as the executive director in 2011. “It’s important for the general public to understand that we’re still a nonprofit with independence but now, as a city program, we have the possibility for exponential growth every year.”
BUGS has officially been partnered with the city Parks and Recreation department since December 1, 2014. They have been enjoying a new facility since November, and celebrated that facility with a grand opening in March that included a ribbon cutting ceremony with Mayor Bieter.
Guerricabeitia said the new facility boasts a commercial kitchen, which allows BUGS to expand their offering of culinary classes. Since partnering with the City of Boise, BUGS has added several other new programs as well, including classes for preschoolers. “We now have the ability to offer additional programming at a lower fee,” explained Guerricabeitia.
This spring, BUGS will increase their field trip program to roughly 30 trips, up from last year’s 22. They’re also working to increase youth access to garden-based education through Just Add Water—a program that provides schools with information and services on how to create a school garden. Guerricabeitia said this is especially important with Boise’s low-income population, which BUGS tries to cater to by keeping fees as low as possible.
Another exciting project is the expansion of community gardens. Today, there are four community gardens on city property and BUGS, with the help of the Parks and Recreation department, is looking to expand that.
“Both organizations are trying to accomplish the same goal,” Guerricabeitia said, “so we realized how beneficial it would be to partner up.” Paul Schoenfelder, the City of Boise’s recreation coordinator, agreed. “Having BUGS become part of the city makes a lot of sense and it’s a good match,” he said. “BUGS has been doing a lot of things we’re interested in for a long time, like getting kids excited about gardening, food production, and learning where their food comes from. So joining that with the city’s ability to get the word out and get kids to sign up is a great thing.”
Check out BUGS’ new facility at 2995 N. Five Mile Road, or even sign up to volunteer in the garden. Now’s the time to get planting!