`Alex Root

Tristen Joens

Blog Post


Warner’s Nursery and Landscape is a really nice plant gardening store. They are very helpful to people who want to learn more about the exciting world of gardening. The store is amazing, selling a large variety of different kinds of plants. You can either buy them from a seed and start them yourself, or you can select a plant that the team has already started ono for you! In our past class, a representative of Warner’s, Alex, came over to discuss with us a little about themselves and the plants.


Alex began the presentation by discussing how to start an indoor garden. She explained that, herbs can be kept inside for an extended period of time. The amount of water that each plant needs varies, but they all need a lot of sunlight. Some common options to start inside include: basil, rosemary, and mint. Indoors is the best place to start planting veggies. However, they will end up needing to be planted outside. Veggies, also, require more water than herbs. Alex says one of the most important things to keep in mind is deciding which indoor plant to care for, and how much effort and time you are willing to put in. Plants with more colorful leaves, or flowers need more water and light. The greener the leaves, the more light and water is needed to sustain them.



Willows Are Like Weeds

By Grace Booher, Anastasia Salazar, and Alysia Gradillas

On March 8, 2018 the air was cool and breezy against our skin. My hair danced in the wind and wisped around my face as I opened the door and began to get out of the car. We proceeded to venture from our cars to the garden whilst still bearing the crisp wind. It was a divine day to be at the Colton Garden. Cirrus clouds stretched across the sky in their typical wispy manner, giving a softer look to the harsh and bright blue sky. As we got into the garden, we had little to no idea what was planned. We fantasized about what we thought we may be doing. Perhaps we were going to be able to plant some more grain in the greenhouse, but we didn’t. Instead, guess what we did? Have you guessed it? Well, we ended up clearing out the garden beds filled with deep-rooted willows, and those plants put up a fight! We weren’t thrilled about the activity, but were still happy to get off campus and bathe in the nature surrounding Colton.

Ella is putting a thumbs up because she is ready to work!


If you weren’t aware, willows tend to spread like wildflowers and can overthrow your garden if you let them get out of control. The veggies in one’s garden bed will be unable to compete with the invasive willows for water and nutrients. Eventually, all there will be left is willows. We began using various gardening tools to try and make a dent in the willows. It was a slow process, and hard work, but we got it done.

Alex, Kisni and Justin are battling with the deep-rooted willows in the garden bed.

After clearing the various beds, we put mulch or pine needles on top of the now clean beds to prevent the willows and other pesky weed-like plants from growing there. Mulching is good for the plants not only because it protects the bare soil from needy weeds that could choke out your veggie plants, but also because it ads organic material to decompose amongst the plants. Additionally, if there is too much nitrogen in the soil it can help balance that out over time. Another benefit to mulching your veggie bed is that when/if it does unexpectedly lightly frost, is temperature control. If plants have already been planted when a frost comes, the mulch can somewhat protect the plant from such severe temperatures, as it retains the grounds heat more than just bare soil.

After we cleared the garden bed of willows, Alysia with care, added in the pine needles.

As we worked, we discussed the random subject of dreams and their meanings. Many individuals were in distress about their meanings. How we got on this topic is unknown, but spiders seem to affect many people. Fun fact, spiders tend to mean that you are steering clear from temptation or feeling like you do not belong in a given situation. There was more we discussed although the spider frenzy was a big topic. It’s nice to have such a light hearted community to discuss with while at work. Never at NAU would any of us have ever crossed paths if it wasn’t for this class. The diversity of our ALT group and the inclusive behaviors we have towards each other is something you will find rarely in our hate and money driven modern world. We cherish one another’s company and look forward to seeing one another in class. This has affected us all heavily this semester and we have all gained the skill of being respectful and inclusive with classmates not only in our growing communities class, but in all aspects of life.

Kim and Emily instruct us on what we are doing for the day! We would have never met them if we hadn’t taken this class.


I challenge anyone who reads this blog entry to try and reach out to someone today that you don’t typically reach out to. This can make a big difference not only in your community, but in individual people’s lives. The action of smiling and asking how someone’s day is going with genuine care can really make a difference in someone’s day and even life. Take the leap, and say hello to your neighbors 🙂 .


Willows, Willows, and More Willows

FYS Blog- March 2nd, 2018


Todays ALTS was not the most eventful one we have been apart of. We got quite a bit done, but it just wasn’t as captivating to us as some of the other days have been. It was a pretty chilly and gloomy day to begin with. I particularly remember Emily cruising over to her house to get Simi a sweater to dig in. We started the day off like any other. Meeting at the HLC, cruising over in a little caravan to the garden, chat a bit about some of the day’s goals, and then getting our hands dirty! Nick, myself, and the rest of the team immediately dove in to the day’s task. We each got ourselves a pair of large cutters, and started taking out all of the willows in which were in areas they weren’t supposed to. Cutting the willows at the soil is a pretty easy task. Once you get past the soil, these willows have a very intense and intricate system of roots spreading from willow to willow. Often intertwining themselves and making it more difficult on us. Although it was tedious work, we both had an awesome time. It is safe to say that Nick and I are ones who like getting our hands dirty, and don’t mind some grueling work from time to time. After the willow cutting session, Nick, myself, and the group spent time on our own, having a creative expression session. Here we each drew pictures or wrote about the garden. We were even given the chance to use this time to observe in depth some of what was going on around the garden. If we were to highlight a favorite part of this ALT’s gardening session, it would definitely have to be Simi’s enthusiasm when it came to cutting the willows. While most of us had large clippers, Simi went straight to the pick-axe. Seeing Simi swing this massive pick-axe in to a tiny little willow was definitely something I wont forget. It was joy in the purest form on his face, and that’s what ALT’s should be about.

Mulch! Compost! Mice! February 15, 2018

Written By: Grace Booher

The sun was heading towards the western horizon when we got into the garden. The wind was blowing but bearable and while there was some snow on the ground, none was coming out of the sky. Anastasia and I were told to turn the compost bins with Kim while the rest of the group went with Emily to spread mulch.

(Anastasia and the compost bins after we turned them.)

At some point, while turning the compost, we found a few mice. Alex was especially interested in the small and frightened rodents. Each time we found a new mouse, we helped it onto the shovel and put it out of harm’s way. There were also plenty of worms once we got to the bottom of the pile. While we were turning the compost, Kim was explaining why adding hay to the compost mixture is important. I learned that when dark and leafy greens are thrown into the pile, it increases the nitrogen level of the soil. Therefore, in order to balance the nitrogen levels out, hay is added to the pile along with many other things.

(The whole crew shoveling mulch into wheel barrels. )

In the meantime, Emily and my classmates where spreading mulch in the front of the garden. Kim and Emily explained that spreading mulch is important for decreasing the amount of weeds that pop up when warmer weather comes around. Spreading mulch decreases the ability of weeds to grow by decreasing the amount of accessible dirt to root and germinate in. By decreasing the amount of weeds that pop up, we can decrease the amount of work we will have to do later on.

(Friends wheeling the barrels to their dumping destination.)

After finishing up, we returned our tools to the lovely green house and regrouped around the picnic table. Kim then asked us to draw things from around the garden or to journal or reflect in someway on our surroundings.


(Some nature bellow the mountains.)

I drew a bird and the mountains and a few different flowers from the summer before. Once we were done with our reflections we all got in our cars and said our goodbyes until the next ALTs time.


(Kim reading us an excerpt to inspire our reflective journaling/drawing. )

Living Sustainability is Living Green

By Anastasia Salazar

Sustainability is the practice of “not using an uncontrollable amount of resources so that everyone can live sustainably” said McKenzie Jones, a Sustainability Specialist here in Flagstaff, Arizona.

McKenzie Jones discusses what the City of Flagstaff does in regards to climate.


You may be wondering why I am talking about sustainability well, this is because on February 14, 2018, Jones discussed the idea of what sustainability is and how to really live this way. It is not just about going green and half the time people do not understand the idea of “going green”. What is going green to you?  It may be recycling paper or putting the right thing into the recycling bin however, that is just a small factor in which completes reducing the amount of resources in which you consume. Everywhere and including flagstaff, the climate, energy, natural areas, food, and waste are something in which individuals take for granted.

This is a chart of what defines a community as sustainable.


In order to reduce your amount of consumption McKenzie offers some tips. Unfortunately, I only got nine of the ten ways in which she told the class to reduce their impact and the nine are:

  1. Take the bus, walk, carpool or ride a bike!
  2. Drive smarter means to turn off your engine if you are staying in your car and not moving for more than ten seconds.
  3. Save water! There is no need to be taking fifteen-minute showers since it really takes five minutes. Also, this saves a lot of water. Alert facilities of leaking facets and make sure to run dish washers when full, hand wash dishes, and flush the toilet based on solid or waste.
  4. Power off devices. This means unplug or put electronics on a power strip to reduce the amount of energy consumption. Buildings in Flagstaff account for more than half the total area use.

    Just as the City of Flagstaff conserves energy and reduce costs, the Flagstaff community should too.
  5. Waste less food! You may not seem like you are wasting food, but you are. According to Jones, forty-percent of the food does not make it to the fork. This is why it is essential to get things you will eat and make grocery lists before going to the store. Eat leftovers! Freeze your food!
  6. Reuse! Use reusable containers and water bottles! Go thrift shopping! There is also a place on campus in which sells the furniture that Northern Arizona University does not use and it is called the NAU surplus (it is Building 77). Basically, try to reuse items instead of buying new.
  7. Print smart! Print in black and white instead of color.
  8. Recycle correctly! Meaning put the right items in the recycling bin.
  9. Participate! In order for any of these things to work everyone has to strive to live sustainably.

These nine tips are essential for living green and sustainably. However, the community, the world has to put the effort into making this happen so that we continue to have a sustainable place to live on. Start small! It is easy as carrying a reusable water bottle with you to refill it!

Here are some events to help live sustainably. Have fun!

These are a few events happening in the near future. Check them out!



Yarn-ing For Your Love

Did you know that bits of sheep can also be found in tennis rackets, candles, soap, and most cosmetics and skincare products? Arguably, the coolest part of sheep is their fluffy, beautiful, and versatile coat of wool.

While all of the final projects proved to be interesting, we (Kandace Yazzie and Christine Miller) took a different turn. When Kandace brought up the possibility of creating yarn, it was almost too good to be true. The ability to see a product be made from literally start to finish was too valuable to give up, so the idea became a plan.

It began with Kandace sheering the wool from her sheep Jack and Jill. While this practice is common and taught down by family members, it still proves to require much resilience and knowledge. Kandace brought the wool back to Flagstaff, split it into two garbage bags, and we both started cleaning the haul.

The cleaning process is extensive: it is not for the faint of heart. The first step is to separate the wool to take the dirt, fecal matter, sticks, and random sheep accessories out. Second, the carting process begins. A carting tool does a more precise job of filing the stubborn dirt out of the finely sheered wool. Lastly in the carting steps, it is to be washed and soaked in soap and water.

59d0a589b9884ee0ade84d7fbf704edccc4cc6c3aa9245208a4b3fa3b67626aa9c3b1d88a241475fb181ff47ee28c4b8Here is Christine’s new buddy Esa helping card!

From the cleaned wool, the spinning process can start, and Kandace is the master of all things this area. She expertly twirls the wool around a tool to create the effect of yarn that is commonly recognized. 908cc2824e184d689c48909f3f61658d.jpegWe wanted to dye the yarn with berries and seeds from the Colton Garden, but unfortunately could not fit that into our timeline. Furthermore, this means that selling our product could not happen in time for the Holiday Marketplace. We were disappointed, but we gladly continued working and explaining our practice during the event.

While we weren’t able to financially reap the benefits of our labor and sell our product to someone who could create something with it, not all was for lost. Actually, nothing was. Through this project, Kandace and I grew a unique and irreplaceable friendship. Kandace was able to teach the class and our teachers about the process of creating something from the ground up. Lastly, we got to experience real community through the production of something we were both invested in and the growth of something beautiful.


Learning About Soils

By Chris Ignace and Hunter Wood

October 25, 2017

Weather: A nice in-room temperature of 68 Degrees Fahrenheit

During regular class on Wednesday the students were able to learn about soils from Hunter, Shyla, Ashley, Daniel, and Ciera.


Here we see some of students from the class learning about the composition of soil and how to tell if it is good soil or bad soil. The students were able to test the soil by placing the soil in their hand then squeezing it and seeing how well it clumped together, an indication that it is rich, healthy soil. They were also able to test it by sniffing it and seeing if had a prominent earthy smell, another good indication. Finally, they could observe the soil and see if it has a rich dark brown color. The dark color indicates that it is rich in humus which is the part of soil made up of organic matter. If the soil was able to pass all three test then the soil is fertile for gardening.


Here we have the samples of soil from the Colton Community Garden being tested. Additionally, starting from the left, we have the worst sample of soil. This soil is high in sand, therefore it makes it really gritty causing the color to be a light brown which lacks moisture and hummus. As we go up the line we can see the samples of soil increasing in quality because of the darkening of the soils due to an increase in hummus and clay which traps moisture.


Here we have the highest quality of topsoil! This sample came from the Colton Community Garden compost pile. It has a rich dark brown color indicating it has a lot of moisture, and is full of nutrients that are needed for a plant to thrive. This jar also contains the helpful workers of the garden, worms!


Here we see student Hunter Wood teaching the class how they can improve the quality of their soil by using a method of double digging. Initially, double digging is when someone spreads manure through out their planned garden area, and then digs multiple trenches. Soil from the first trench, goes into a wheel-barrel. Soil from the second trench, goes into the first trench. Ultimately, this process is repeated until you get to the last trench where the soil from the first trench will go. 

Everyday in this class, is a new experience and adventure! For one, the class gets to learn about permaculture and sustainable living which will benefit anyone.