During the weekend of October 14 and 15, more than 50 volunteers arrived for shifts of landscape installations at the one-third-acre Sensory Garden site on the Fillmore Campus grounds of Sewall and REACH. Designed by CU Landscape Architecture Masters Degree graduate Catharine McCord, the Congress Park Green Team lead by Emily Hunt, CU Landscape Architecture Assistant Professor Jody Beck, and Angelina Andrade, Senior Horticulturist with the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG), and Elena Shtern and Ty Levad, the team planted thousands of grasses, shrubs, flowers, and a dozen fruit trees donated by the Denver Forestry Division of City Parks and Recreation/The Parks People. Andrade collected hundreds of plants after the DBG plant sale for the Sensory Garden.
More than 20 volunteers from Independence House joined nearby residents, and Sewall and REACH community to add hours of work as they could during a glorious autumn weekend. Work had been originally schedule two weeks earlier, but was delayed by inclement autumn weather.
Garden is valued at $150,000. The value includes a $75,000 grant by the Colorado Garden Foundation to purchase rental equipment, landscape materials, and an irrigation system. Andrade collected $3,000 worth of donated plant materials, and volunteer labor hours over many weeks added project value, according to Beck.
The collaborative efforts were recognized in media coverage by KUSA Channel 9 and The Denver Post and with a shared report in Chalkbeat Colorado along with social media posts by Denver Public Schools, the Colorado Garden Foundation (CGF), and CU Denver School of Planning and Architecture. The Landscape Architecture Foundation cited McCord’s design in an Olmsted Scholar Finalist recognition. Her research, under the guidance of graduate advisor and Congress Park resident Jody Beck, compiled the latest research in learning and neurology as well as extensive interviews with the staff, students, educators, and parents at Sewall and REACH. Maribeth Waldrep, VP of Development at Sewall, collaborated with McCord to apply for the CGF grant. Rosa Chavez on the Sewall team organized the volunteers. The Sensory Garden design is truly unique and will grow with the students who use it as an educational and therapeutic resource in play and natural exploration in experiential learning.
McCord, Andrade (who has two children attending REACH), and the school communities will continue to work on the Sensory Garden along with volunteers. Students will cultivate plants and incorporate the Sensory Garden in their curriculum.
For more background on McCord’s research, visit: https://lafoundation.org/news-events/blog/2017/08/07/osp-catharine-mccord/
For media coverage of the project: