Public School Garden

I recently had the opportunity to visit a wonderful public elementary school garden.  

Of course first a distraction--the house right next door to the school had a xeric woodland front yard instead of a lawn--providing some screening and privacy from elementary school traffic, and considerable afternoon shade for the west-facing home. 
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Well done!
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On to the school garden itself.  Garden activities are fully integrated into the education.  Students learn to observe, measure and chart such things as temperature and soil moisture on a daily basis (science!), converting fahrenheit to celcius (math!).  They collaborate as a group weeding, watering, and planting (team work!), and learn and practice recipes using their produce (healthy eating!).  
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Each class is divided into two for garden time, with one group remaining in the classroom with the teacher for individual attention, while the other half works in the garden guided by a parent volunteer.   A break for physical gardening activity also helps the students focus better once they are back in the classroom.
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Although the garden runs on donations from companies and parents, various activities raise more than $10,000 a year that finance other educational programs at the school.  
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Pumpkins are grown for an October sale,  and there are also twice-monthly produce sales and bake sales with items made using garden vegetables and fruits.  Students learn basic healthy cooking skills. 
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Students who excel in activities are awarded coupons they may "spend" for healthy treats.  
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One wonderful side effect is that many families are now gardening at home, inspired by the activities at school.
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Rain chain directs water into the garden beds.  Students learn about climate and recycling.
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Parents must commit a certain number of hours each month to volunteer at the school.  Students are chosen by a yearly random drawing (though once they are selected, they may finish out their elementary school years there without the drawing, and elementary-age siblings may also attend, so parents are not forced to drive their kids to more than one school every day).
The fourth grade knows their broccoli:
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As a gardener, I was envious of the school's donated rain storage barrels--500 gallons each.  Quick!  Convert that to liters!
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1,892.7.  It takes only 20 minutes of moderate rain to fill one 500 gallon--1,892.7 liter barrel.  Wow.  Want!
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A creative and dynamic public school is a beautiful thing. 
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Hail future gardeners!


 

Comments

  1. I know several private schools are doing this, so glad to see that some public schools are as well!

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    1. I wish there had been a program like this when I was that age...

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  2. Such a great initiative from the public school which will also sow seeds on the students who hopefully will result in some of them being horticulturists.

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    1. It may be a few decades, but a lot of gardeners will trace their plant passion back to their elementary school. Isn't that great?

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  3. Wonderful! So much of today's education is all about sitting still and getting tested. A school garden provides much needed outdoor time. I just started working on building a school garden for my son's high school (one of very few remaining technical high schools in the country). We're only one meeting into it, so not much to tell yet. Obviously the kids in question are older, but I think it could be great! As you said - there is so many subjects that can be baked in to gardening - math, sciences, home economics, health, and art in general, but in the case of my son's school also construction, manufacturing, photography, digital media etc. I'll blog about it when the time comes - providing everything goes well. Fingers crossed! Nice post!

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    1. It is critical, critical to get a good dedicated team to make it happen. One person can start it, but you need at least a few good and dedicated people to really make it happen. The local high school has quite a program also, but we were not able to visit that school.

      I look forward to reading about your efforts. That is really exciting! Best of luck for great success!

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    2. Thanks! I totally agree that you need a good team. The school counselor is my closest ally, working on the inside, trying to get more teachers involved. I hope they will become my dedicated team. If they base part of their lesson plans in the garden, the school district is more likely to support the idea in the first place. So far, we're just ironing out the basics. Stand by for more...

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    3. Parents & grandparents also! Standing by...

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  4. I have vague (and distant) memories of planting radishes and the like in an elementary school garden. I also remember a floriculture class, available as an elective in high school. As you said, it seems such an easy way to bring many disciplines together and give them life (no pun intended). I can't say I've seen much evidence of this kind of activity in public schools but I hope more teachers find a way to weave botany and horticulture into school curricula.

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    1. And here you are now, gardening away...what a few radish seeds can do. :)

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  5. How wonderful, tis a beautiful thing.

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    1. If even cynical me is won over--then it is pretty wonderful. And there are those big rainwater tanks to gawk at, if nothing else.

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  6. Two of our local public schools are doing this, such a great idea for the students and the benefits are multiplied.
    xoxoxo ♡

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    1. Great to hear that, Dianne. Gardens can bring such joy.

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  7. Until now never seen here garden education on an elementary school, I think it's a wonderful idea.

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    1. We need it here--many Americans are sadly ignorant of the world of plants. :(

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  8. This is a trend that makes my heart beat faster. The other one is getting convicts involved in gardening.

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