Grizz Garden: An Oasis of Green in a Campus of Concrete


Grizz Garden is a name that the majority of Ashland students are not familiar with. Since the dismemberment of the Wilderness Charter School, there has been a vacancy in the plot next to the lower track field where once vibrant alternative classes were held, but not anymore. Last year, Sophie Javna, with a small group of environmentally conscious students, revived the space behind the Wilderness Charter School, which was already full of fertile soil and a dynamic spread of fruit trees. With Javna’s departure, Ariana Rambach has taken it upon herself to keep Grizz Gardens alive.

Ariana Rambach has got the place going like never before. Her visions for the future of the garden are to have it produce enough to give a steady supply of fresh organically grown greens, vegetables, and fruits to the cafeteria; further education of those at the High School about Organic life styles and nature itself; and the awareness of such issues as encroaching GMO (Genetically Modified Organism) plantations trying to take root in our valley.

Rambach and a few members of Grizz Gardens went Tuesday night to the Ashland City Hall to speak against Syngenta’s plans for a Genetically Modified Crop field to be planted in Ashland near Normal Avenue by Hunter Park. Rambach informed me that “GM plant pollen can travel up to two miles in the air. The cross pollination with other plants have not been studied yet, and could have horrible consequences for those trying to maintain organic gardens throughout Ashland. This is a growing fight and there is a bill soon going in front of the city council to ban GM plant fields up to four miles away from the City of Ashland.” She will be one of the many volunteers going out to the community to receive the 6,000 signatures for this bill. She has gained new followers to her Grizz Garden cause, such as Mr. Heartman’s Urban Ecology and Earth Science classes, who join Grizz Garden often to plant and learn about our environment.

Grizz Garden as an experiment has really worked out. Club members have introduced rain catchers throughout the garden, allowing for a natural supply of rainwater for the plants when needed. There are rows of beds ready, fertilized and waiting to be cultivated. Ariana Ramcach invites people to come after school to Grizz Gardens to enjoy the fun of gardening even if they aren’t in the club. She has new trays of seedlings waiting to go in, finally ready after careful coaxing. When I visited the Grizz Garden“Come plant a lettuce” was the common greeting she gave to the many people walking by. Many did so with joy. There is a feeling of great accomplishment seeing how work can play off in a real product that is a living organism; to care and nurture and watch it grow. These emotions were felt this past fall when Grizz Garden’s work paid off and their harvest allowed them to supply the Cafeteria with fresh cilantro, arugula, tomatoes and Russian kale. She hopes to be able to take it to the next level this upcoming Fall harvest. Therefore those of you who have not finished your community service hours  or just want to feel the accomplishment of cultivating a garden, this a great opportunity to learn agricultural skills, tan and produce something with your time. This summer there will be many open opportunities for the curious, who should visit Grizz Garden’s Facebook Page, or speak with Ariana Rambach.