Willow Project Grows in the Sunflower Garden

Willow Project Grows in the Sunflower Garden

In January youth staff from Social Advocates for Youth’s Sunflower Community Garden, along with Sorrel Allen, our Garden Youth Supervisor, worked with local environmental artist, Sherry Gibson from Wild Woodswoman Creations to install a 8ft x 9 ft. living willow arch for the new entrance to the Sunflower Community Garden. Youth helped dig the holes, plant the willows, weave and tie off the final structure, and sheet mulch the area to prevent weed growth. In the months to follow this willow arch will sprout and grow into a beautiful living tunnel that transitions garden staff, volunteers, and visitors from the urban environmental to the natural one, serving as a reminder of inner city and youth resilience, and an inspiration in the community.

During the workshop, teens came alive and got to learn and experiment with entirely new skills such as: 

  • time spent in nature, learning to move with the willow
  • natural design and building skills, learning the whole process: from concept to creation
  • measuring and staking out the arch dimensions
  • selecting the right diameter of willow branch for building a sturdy lasting structure
  • pruning willow on a bias to expose the living cell tissue and stripping off side branches while preserving the buds
  • installing structural posts and supports – using old non-living willow
  • creating something using only renewable resources
  • quiet and artistic meditation while weaving willow into the arch
  • teamwork!