Each spring, students at CHCI help prepare a flower, fruit, and vegetable garden for the chimpanzees. The garden grows along the outside of the fencing of the chimpanzees’ outdoor enclosure, up on the berm.
This year, we’ve had a lot of help from CHCI students and the summer apprentices, in preparing and maintaining the garden. Earlier in the spring, Anne, Debbie, Gina, Katie, Kristen, Jason, Jessie, and Shannon all helped prepare the soil and plant the seeds. This summer, the apprentices — Ande, Cristy, David, Hallie, Jan, Lindsey, Katrina, Mark, and Shona (but not Greta; she managed to sleep through the whole thing) — along with Anne and Gina, have all pitched in to keep the weeds under control.
This year, we’ve planted all sorts of tasty treats in the garden. We’ve sunflowers, melons, watermelon (CANDY FRUIT) edible flowers including snapdragons and pansies (FLOWER), cucumbers (GREEN SLICE), tomatoes (RED SLICE), raspberries & strawberries (BERRY), chives (ONION GRASS), mint, oregano, and basil. The fruit on the apple trees and peach tree are beginning to develop and the branches are already hanging low over some portions of the berm path.
Washoe and her family get very excited about the garden growing on the berm. From their outdoor play area, they get to watch the whole process, from prepping the soil, to the sprouting of the plants, to the development and ripening of the fruits. They often request treats from the garden from caregivers when the caregivers are up on the berm, and can make and use tools to get things from the garden themselves. For example, one day last week, Tatu spent nearly half an hour manipulating a fire hose through the fencing to draw branches of a mint plant close enough to the fencing that she could snake a hand through the gap beneath the fencing, capture the stalk between two fingers, and pinch off the tender tops with her other hand.
We will plant another garden in the fall. If you would like to be a part of the chimpanzees’ fall garden, we’d love your support. Write us an e-mail if you would like to provide fall plant seeds, plant starts, or donate garden tools.