A formal groundbreaking took place Friday for a Roosevelt Row community project that will turn a vacant lot into a field of sunflowers.
The Valley of the Sunflowers project broke ground Friday at the southwest corner of Sixth and Garfield streets. The cooperative effort between the City of Phoenix, the Roosevelt Row Community Development Corporation, Phoenix Union Bioscience High School and Intel will produce two crops of sunflowers, one in the fall and one in the spring. Bioscience High School students will harvest the sunflowers and press the seeds for oil to use in their biofuel vehicle project.
The lot will be used for planting sunflowers while not staging construction for University of Arizona’s Biomedical campus, said Kenny Barrett, artist and project manager.
“Many successes come from overcoming challenges,” said Barrett. “Projects like these are examples of ideas people are coming up with to solve these problems and use these vacant lots.”
The ceremony, which drew approximately 200 audience members, began with a welcome by the project’s interim director Cindy Dach. Barrett provided a project background while Mayor Phil Gordon and District 8 City Councilman Michael Johnson spoke words of encouragement.
Also in attendance was District 14 Senator Debbie McCune-Davis, who thanked the audience — comprised mostly of Bioscience High School students — for their loyalty to downtown Phoenix.
“Your participation is a visual demonstration of support for the central city,” said McCune-Davis.
The vacant lot is expected to bear two plantings of sunflowers, which have a 90-day growing period. Project coordinators have scheduled the first planting volunteer day for Saturday, Sept. 17, at 8 a.m.
“Our goal is to engage in more of these projects that allow students to learn side by side with the rest of us,” said Dr. Deedee Falls, principal of Bioscience High School. “None of us have all the answers.”
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