Hello Friends of the Orchard!

Last week, we reached out to you about our vision for the upcoming year, and explained how you can participate in making that vision a reality. This week and in the upcoming weeks, we would like to tell you how far last year’s fundraising drive donations went, and the difference they made in our community. Thanks to you, individual contributions received in 2021 eligible for the AZ tax credit, totaled a new high for the Orchard of $23,342! Today, we would like to share with you one specific project that your support helped make possible: The Nature Explore Classroom!

The Nature Explore Classroom, adjacent to the SOO Farmers’ Market, celebrated its grand opening in October of 2021. The Orchard was the lead contractor and now the operations coordinator for this project bringing together an outdoor creative play space for young children and the desert’s world of pollinators! Through a series of designated spaces, the Nature Explore Classroom has provided opportunities for children to learn about skills such as physics and art, and to use tree cookies, blocks, and other materials found all around to build and create. 

On an afternoon in the Nature Explore Classroom, you can find kids in the water area building dams and testing out various mediums to see which best holds back the water. In the messy materials space, kids build towers and boats, and turn a tree cookie into dishes and cups for a meal of mulch and leaves. The music area features a marimba made at a perfect height for young learners, and when they are tired out, quiet gathering areas make for a perfect opportunity to wind down. These are just a few of the areas kids have been growing and exploring in over the past few months!

The work of the Orchard can be seen all around the Nature Explore Classroom, from assembling pre-made materials such as the marimba and several tables, to creating wood signs and benches from scratch. Currently, Orchard staff supervise school visits, and open hours during the farmer’s market which takes place at Spaces of Opportunity. 
This work was made possible by the generosity of the donors who saw the value in our mission, and took the step to support it. If you are interested in supporting our work in 2022, we will be attaching our donation form to this email.
Thank you for your time, and for taking the time to learn more about what we do!

-The Orchard Community Learning Center Team

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