Plans are underway for a community garden at White Mountain Middle school. During WWII nearly everyone had a garden. They were called victory gardens. It is hoped this garden will be the first step in a victory over obesity garden. And it may well be as students take pride in the opportunity to play an active role in this garden from its very beginning.
Brian Marlia-Larsen, a local nurse, is partnering with the staff at WMMS to spearhead a much anticipated garden. Marlia-Larsen is an Eagle Point resident and a recent graduate from the Rogue Community College nursing program. He is an emergency room nurse at Providence Hospital and is continuing the pursuit of a bachelors of nursing degree through OHSU. The additional year of study at OHSU is focused on community health and nursing leadership.
Screenings done in District 9 by nurses through the OHSU program revealed that 34 percent of the middle school students in district were classified as overweight. This is twice the national average. In response to these findings Marlia-Larsen began to assess the possibility of a community garden. He learned OHSU nursing students have this as a goal.
“Such an initiative has great potential to enhance accessibility and affordability of healthy and locally grown foods,” said Marlia-Larsen. He met with WMMS principal Dan Johnson and several key staff members who are very supportive. They have identified a 50 ft. x 50 ft. plot and are very excited at the prospect.
Marlia-Larsen is sending out a letter and making contact with potential local partners to fund the project. So far he has collected nearly $500 in donations. These funds have come from the Pacific Crest Chapter of the American Association of Critical Care Nurses and donors such as Theresa Erickson, an ICU nurse and former D9 School board member, Kelly Wells, another ICU nurse, and the Marlia-Johnson family of Eagle Point. His goal is $800 by the end of February. The total cost estimate is $1,614. Marlia-Larsen has a list of items needed, from mulch to PVC pipe to shovels, garden hose, and so on. He hopes the garden complex can be completely installed by early spring in order that the spring OHSU nursing students will be able to further develop the garden with the children of WMMS.
Those able to partner with the White Mountain Garden project are encouraged to contact Marlia-Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or call White Mountain Middle School at 541-830-6315. Marlia-Larsen can be reached at 541-690-6024.
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent