Spring colors


Plant labels can combine art and identification!

This week at Willow Bend, spring garden planning has included making a planting map, and painting colorful labels. The youth that I have been working with did a great job despite only getting a small crash course in gardening. We have been using seed catalogs to learn about the crops we’re growing so we know what they look like and how they grow.


Spinach sprouting


Lettuce sprouting

Right now on our window bench we have spinach, lettuce, and cilantro, starting indoors to go outside in May. Next week we’ll be starting sunflowers, broccoli, carrots, chard, and herbs.

Thanks for checking in! Check back soon for more news!

Early April garden report

IMG_0554Greetings! While I have spent the last few months doing garden planning and staring outside wishing for spring, the time is finally here to get going on our garden. In the last two weeks we added a hefty layer of aged manure to the beds, turned the soil, weeded, and then spread a final layer of mulch. Located on the east side of Willow Bend, the beds are very warm and sunny, but the soil quality is quite sandy and nutrient poor. I’m determined to give the youth I’m working with an experience of harvesting by May, which is a push in Flagstaff’s climate, so we’ll be doing everything we can to set the plants up for successful growing.

IMG_0557Right now if you stop by, I encourage you to look for rosy colored beet seedlings outside, although I fear those may soon succumb to the hungry jaws of freshly hatched grasshoppers that abound in the meadow landscape of Sawmill Park. IMG_0563You can also check out the tray of seed starts that are warming outside on the south side of the building. Right now there are tomatoes, peppers, kale, chard, and arugula sprouting.

If you find the strawberry bed, you might even be able to find the first white flowers of future berries.

Gardening is possible in Flagstaff; check back in to see it in action!


Spring Arrives at Willow Bend



Happy spring from Willow Bend Environmental Education Center!  We’re excited to announce our new blog. Make sure to check back for the latest news and special updates.

Despite our recent snowy day, the birds are chirping, lizards are sunning, and the first flowers are blooming at Willow Bend, signaling the arrival of spring! This is a great time to come explore the seasonal changes at Coconino County’s Sawmill Park surrounding Willow Bend. You can even take a path down to the Flagstaff Urban Trail System along the Rio De Flag; head east to find great marshland bird watching. Stop in to say hello and check out a bird guide and binoculars from us to borrow.

IMG_0521Thanks to Norm Lowe, we have completed some improvements to our rainwater catchment system – just in time to catch the recent rain and snow.  This water will irrigate some of our gardens.   Norm is on the Board of Supervisors of the Coconino Natural Resource Conservation District – our founding organization.

Come check out how simple and easy a rainwater catchment system can be, and better yet, come to our Sustainability Series talk on residential rainwater harvesting to learn more: Thursday, April 18th, presented by David McKee – City of Flagstaff Watershed Specialist. (http://www.willowbendcenter.org/public-programs_adult.html)

Did you know that Willow Bend features a variety of native landscaped gardens, all with interpretive signs and many plant labels? The gardens are a great place to wander and learn. This year our vegetable garden is expanding with the help of our AmeriCorps Educator Lisa Eldredge, and youth from the Juvenile Court school from down the road. Lisa brings many years of farming and gardening knowledge from Flagstaff and beyond, and is dedicated to empowering youth through hands-on experiences in food systems, gardening, community, and sustainability. She will be posting updates throughout the season here on this blog. Make sure to come and check out how the garden is growing.

Registration for Outdoor Adventure Camps Now Open

camp one page colorWillow Bend Environmental Education Center is pleased to announce our partnership with The Arboretum at Flagstaff  on NEW Outdoor Adventure Camps from June 17 through July 26 for children ages 5-13.

Experienced educators will offer hands-on learning opportunities in a variety of programs that include: wildlife of the area, live study of insects, our amazing weather, science and art, plant survival, and wilderness survival skills. All campers will enjoy daily hikes, guest teachers, and science projects. Visit www.thearb.org for more details, or call 928-774-1442, ext. 110.

Come Explore the Natural World!