General Science and Teaching

School Gardens Spring 2012

Hi All, Here in Maine we have had signs of an early spring and this morning we now have an inch of snow. We have had greens in our greenhouse for much of this relatively mild winter Many schools in Maine now have school gardens as both part of their curriculum and their lunch program. [b]This brings me to wonder if planning school gardens is in the works for your school? [/b] Here is a collection of resources on school garden Information about planning a school garden and using as an outdoor educational setting http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=xST/dFXC7mQ_E#10199'' target="_blank">http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=xST/dFXC7mQ_E#10199' target="_blank">http://learningcenter.nsta.org/discuss/default.aspx?tid=xST/dFXC7mQ_E#10199 These are some conversations we had last year for background information. http://learningcenter.nsta.org/share.aspx?id=svTNh3njKu'' target="_blank">http://learningcenter.nsta.org/share.aspx?id=svTNh3njKu' target="_blank">http://learningcenter.nsta.org/share.aspx?id=svTNh3njKu [b] Would love to hear your plans for this year and if you find any of these resources useful for planning [/b] My best to you, Arlene

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42040 Activity Points

We have about 14,000 sq feet of gardens at our school, and we're expanding to add 6 community garden beds, so that families without access to growing space (apartment dwellers, mostly) can grow their own food at their kid's school. In addition to the opportunity for families to learn and grow together, we think this will expand the pool of people willing to help out in our other gardens (native plants, mostly, but also many classroom herb and veggie gardens) during the summer. The weeding and watering needs never stop. In the fall, we hope to add some economic lessons to the growing lessons by allowing students to sell some of their produce on weekend market days.

Tyson Brown
Tyson Brown
550 Activity Points

We have about 14,000 sq feet of gardens at our school, and we're expanding to add 6 community garden beds, so that families without access to growing space (apartment dwellers, mostly) can grow their own food at their kid's school. This is wonderful Tyson ! So often folks w/o access to garden spaces can not grow their own food. In addition to the opportunity for families to learn and grow together, we think this will expand the pool of people willing to help out in our other gardens (native plants, mostly, but also many classroom herb and veggie gardens) during the summer. The weeding and watering needs never stop. Summer time volunteers during the summer growing season is so important. How do you enlist your volunteers ? I[i]n the fall, we hope to add some economic lessons to the growing lessons by allowing students to sell some of their produce on weekend market days. [/i] So many ways you can incorporate the garden into the curriculum. This is how a middle school project in Belfast Maine, near where I live, is working to do make the garden central to their curriculum http://gardenproject.wordpress.com/'' target="_blank">http://gardenproject.wordpress.com/' target="_blank">http://gardenproject.wordpress.com/ Love to hear more about your community garden project Tyson ! Any others have some stories to share ? Arlene

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42040 Activity Points

Yes, here in my school in Hawaii we have a school garden which is used by the science class but is open to any class that want to participate. The garden is also used as a garden club for the afterschool program. We are fortunate that was are able to plant and grow foods all year. I have in the past used the garden for my curriculum. I teach Special Education behavior kids and it helps taking them outside to learn. They enjoy the hands on aspect of learning as well as watching the final product which is the food they get to eat. I think its about time I start to utilize the garden again.

Randolph Florendo
Randolph Florendo
110 Activity Points

Hi everyone! I was wondering if anyone here had experience with the Lowe's grants for school gardens? I would think they're pretty competitive but I've always wanted to write the grant. Gardening has opened so many doors for my students. Thanks for sharing! Kendra

Kendra Young
Kendra Young
17060 Activity Points

Yes, here in my school in Hawaii we have a school garden which is used by the science class but is open to any class that want to participate. The garden is also used as a garden club for the afterschool program. We are fortunate that was are able to plant and grow foods all year. I have in the past used the garden for my curriculum. I teach Special Education behavior kids and it helps taking them outside to learn. They enjoy the hands on aspect of learning as well as watching the final product which is the food they get to eat. I think its about time I start to utilize the garden again

Hi Randolf,
What a treat to be able to garden all year round. I have a friend who was a gardening specialist in a school who worked with elementary students who had behaviorial problems. The garden gave them focus and a special place to be. He said he was amazed about how they took ownership of caring for the garden. How might you utilize a garden for your students this year?

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42040 Activity Points

Hi Kendra, I looked for the Lowe's grant for gardens for schools. The grant is called Toolbox for Education http://www.toolboxforeducation.com/sample.html Here are 9 ideas suggested on this website: 1. Reading Garden 2. Vegetable Garden 3. Physical Fitness Area 4. School Landscaping Project 5. School Nature Trail 6. Parent Involvement Center 7. Peer Tutoring Center 8. Playground 9. Rotating Student Art Exhibit The spring 2012 application period is over but there is a fall application period starting in mid July 2012 Has anyone applied for this grant or others for gardening projects this year ? Arlene

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42040 Activity Points

You might want to investigate the produces for Junior MaSTER Gardeners. http://www.jmgkids.us/ I took a free workshop from them and received a book I could use with my students. We planted a garden but since our school was in a 'poorer neighborhood' it was vandalized one weekend even though we had it roped off. Having the kids work on it was good though. Oh well.

Adah Stock
Adah Stock
101490 Activity Points

I like this idea a lot. With this activity students can incorporate Math by charting the growth of the plants, and they can include Language Arts by keeping a log on the observations the students conduct on the plants. Something similar that I observed was done in a kindergarten classroom. The teacher used stocking to fill with dirt and inserted grass seeds in the dirt. The students were able to see the growth of grass over a period of time and document their observations over a period of time. To me it is very important for students to work with real life artifacts that are common to them, so I really like the idea of the school gardens. For older grades I think it would create a sense of responsibility by having volunteers or different students take care of the garden on a daily basis.

Rocio Garcia
Rocio Garcia Rangel
750 Activity Points

I like this idea a lot. With this activity students can incorporate Math by charting the growth of the plants, and they can include Language Arts by keeping a log on the observations the students conduct on the plants. Something similar that I observed was done in a kindergarten classroom. The teacher used stocking to fill with dirt and inserted grass seeds in the dirt. The students were able to see the growth of grass over a period of time and document their observations over a period of time. To me it is very important for students to work with real life artifacts that are common to them, so I really like the idea of the school gardens. For older grades I think it would create a sense of responsibility by having volunteers or different students take care of the garden on a daily basis.

Rocio Garcia
Rocio Garcia Rangel
750 Activity Points

Hi All, Kendra and Arlene, thank you for the information on the Toolbox for Education grants! It's exciting to read about all of the school gardens and how students are not only learning about gardens and plant life cycles, but they are also learning about how the food we grow gets to our tables, nutrition, economics, etc. Fantastic! I read and an article several years ago about growing a tulip garden and using the garden experience as a year long cross-curriucluar lesson opportunity. I've attached the article for anyone who is interested in learning more about this gardening opportunity. Maureen

Attachments

Tracking Through the Tulips (Journal Article)

Maureen Stover
Maureen Stover
40810 Activity Points

I had a garden at school for a while but the problem is that students are not in school during most of the growing season. Any ideas for what to grow if I were to start the garden up again? The kids are not in session mid June till right after Labor Day.

Patty McGinnis
Patricia McGinnis
25300 Activity Points

Hi Patti - depending on where you are the growing season is the real tricky part of a school garden. By me, we say "plant peas on st. Patrick's day, salad on tax day and color on Mother's Day." I worked with a Master Gardener from our local Agricultural Extension and we came up with a better plan - when students come back in the fall it will not be to mature plants that have been harvested all summer but to second plantings that were seeded by volunteers in August so they will be growing throughout September and October. We will plant quick growing cool weather crops can be planted by seed, and overwinter carrots, parsnip, leeks, and garlic in hoop tunnels. Our big expense in the fall will be a greenhouse kit that goes right over one of our 4' x 8' beds - not a lot of space but something - and we keep the weather station going manually all year long. This year we built a set of grow lights and rigged them to timers - seed starting began in February with plants being moved to progressively bigger pots an in and out during the warmer early spring days. We have cleared a spot for cold frames and we'll build them in next year as well.

Caryn Meirs
Caryn Meirs
26195 Activity Points

I would love to start a garden at our intermediate school, grades 6 & 7. We have one at an elementary school in town, and it's been very successful. I'm just afraid of the time/energy/volunteer commitment.

Susan Soares
Susan Soares
430 Activity Points

Susan - fear is good - it is a reality check, but you can do this! Go visit a nearby school garden now - before the students are gone for the summer and take a key volunteer if you can - PTA president etc. Work on not only how you will find volunteers but where the money will come from for start up - it sounds very shallow I know, but the more money you have to start up your garden the more you can do at one time and that makes a difference!

Caryn Meirs
Caryn Meirs
26195 Activity Points

Caryn, I am one of those fanatic three season gardeners too. I am on second crops already, and portions of my garden will see three crops this season. One of the things that a lot of extreme gardeners forget about is the soil - what happens when we plant multiple crops in a single season, and what are the options for keeping the soil in condition? This is especially challenging in the organic garden. Experiment with companion planting, composting options, worms - the options are endless. Look at soil composition and texture. Experiment with residues from artificial irrigation sources. I might also add that I build my own hoop houses. It keeps the cost down, especially if you are gardening when the cold north winds are blustering in early spring and into very late autumn. We use raised beds, and anchor hoops to the sides of the boards. Also, considering using mulches to protect plants into the winter - I picked my last brussels sprouts in February, and spinach planted in October remained green all winter. I just pulled the last of it over the weekend. I took a stalk of the brussels sprouts into a bio teacher who insisted it was not possible for them to be edible after freezing all winter! Great discussion fodder for those who think everything freezes solid at 32 F. Anyway, just a couple ideas for going beyond the basics of growing plants and measuring. Usually, I see school gardens being dedicated at elementary schools, sometimes middle schools, but there are so many ways to incorporate authentic science into the program at the high school level too. Enjoy the garden this summer!

Jennifer Rahn
Jennifer Rahn
67885 Activity Points

I was so excited to come across this discussion. I teach in a portable and there is not much space around the classroom but there is a little. I have been trying to think of a way to garden this space or use large pots that could be left next to the steps. There is a water spigot right outside the class and there is constant sun so the possibilities seem endless but I have no experience with this. Does anyone have any budget-friendly, beginner gardening class lesson ideas? I teach fifth grade. Thanks for any help!

Sarah Romano Saget
Sarah Romano Saget
100 Activity Points

Hi Sarah - it sounds like you are ready to get out in the dirt! I am working on the "First peas to the Table" contest with my kids right now - this is my second year starting out with this project in the garden - kids love it because they get to design the experiment - how will they get their peas to grow faster and produce the first cup of peas...

Caryn Meirs
Caryn Meirs
26195 Activity Points

Hi Sarah, It is so exciting to have the space to start a little garden! Depending on your location, you might have several options. Here in Wisconsin, we have about three weeks from average last frost to last day of school, so we either need to do very short season crops or get an early start indoors. The indoors approach allows for a little experimentation, and kids really seem to take an interest in the cultivation of their own plants. Also allows for lots of experimentation - think lighting, growing medium, food (fertilizer) and so on. Let the kids come up with experimental designs. Great for inquiry. We have tried a number of ethnic gardens. Depending on your students, you might want to think about trying a three sisters, pizza, asian, or other ethnic garden. Provides a nice tie-in to social studies and cultural aspects. I am attaching a little collection that I started a while ago. Hope it helps. Keep us posted on your garden.


Schoolyard Garden / Ecology Collection
(5 items)
Teaching Through Trade Books: Growing a Garden
     -Journal Article
Science Sampler: Seeing the world in a garden—Science and art curricula synergy
     -Journal Article
Schoolyard Inquiry for English Language Learners
     -Journal Article

Jennifer Rahn
Jennifer Rahn
67885 Activity Points

Great resources and ideas here! As spring is upon on, the National Building Museum has a special exhibit on 'Green Schools' and school gardens. If you're in the area, check it out. If not, some good reading available. http://www.nbm.org/exhibitions-collections/exhibitions/green-schools.html

Christina Crawley
Christina Crawley
1695 Activity Points

Does anyone have any resources regarding information on "Green Schools"? Specifically, how to get a school garden started? Thank you.

Stephanie Aldana
Stephanie Aldana
4695 Activity Points

Stephanie and others, You may wish to review two past web seminar archives on creating and maintaining school gardens in addition to ideas for lessons. Archive: Designing, Creating, and Teaching in Schoolyard Gardens, February 8, 2011 Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School, High School, Informal Education Archive: Schoolyard Garden Basics March 24, 2010 Grade Level: Elementary School, Middle School, High School ~patty

Patricia Rourke
Patricia Rourke
45895 Activity Points

and let us not forget the wonderful critters that live in our green spaces... I am attaching a short collection of resources from the Learning Center on being green, gardening, and considering invertebrates in those spaces as well as some other wonderful synergetic connections patty


School Gardens Collection
(9 items)
The Early Years: Collards and Caterpillars
     -Journal Article
The Early Years: An Invertebrate Garden
     -Journal Article
Creating a Schoolyard Mini-Garden
     -Journal Article

Patricia Rourke
Patricia Rourke
45895 Activity Points

Thank you for that information!

Stephanie Aldana
Stephanie Aldana
4695 Activity Points

My urban school doesn't want to buy into a garden program. Mostly it is because of security - the campus is not very secure and animals as well as people may come in uninvited. We do have a very sunny area that is concrete and almost completely hidden, so I would be looking at using containers such as big buckets from the local bakery. Does anyone have any experience with this kind of situation?

Brandi Schonberg
Brandi Schonberg
720 Activity Points

Hi Brandi,

A lot of schools have started gardening in raised beds on former parking lots, so you are in good company.

It sounds like you will be gardening in large plastic buckets, like 5 gallon containers, if I understand your post. These are pretty heavy to move if filled with soil (real 'dirt') especially if wet. Soil weighs several times as much as water, and 5 gallons of water weigh in at about 40 pounds or 18 kg. You should consider a light-weight soil-less mix for container gardens. These mixes may be relatively expensive, and need to be replaced yearly because of bacteria and parasites that may grow in the soil and affect future plant growth.

Are you planning to bring the containers in each day? This can be a difficult and heavy task, so you might consider having a rolling conveyance to do so.

Will they be indoors over the weekends? This could affect growth, as well as potential need to manage over the weekend.

Also, consider your growing period. Many herbs and vegetables can be started indoors and planted out when weather permits. The herbs will generally do well, but some (basil especially) prefer warm temperatures to thrive. Others, like peas, prefer cooler temperatures in the spring. Tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and many others take 60 days or more to mature to produce vegetables. Other vegetables are temperature and day-length sensitive. Choose varieties suited to container gardening. There are many varieties hybridized to grow in restricted containers.

Other issues include access to water and microclimate factors (like radiation off hard surfaces) are things that should be considered.

Bet you never thought growing a garden could be such a challenge! A great site for learning more about container gardening is found at the University of Illinois - Extension. http://urbanext.illinois.edu/containergardening/

Jennifer Rahn
Jennifer Rahn
67885 Activity Points

"Urban school doesn't want to buy into a garden program. Mostly it is because of security - the campus is not very secure and animals as well as people may come in uninvited" I am not sure how this would work where you are located in TX but here is information on Rooftop Gardens. I have been following the Brooklyn Grange since 2010 http://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/aboutthegrange/'' target="_blank">http://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/aboutthegrange/' target="_blank">http://www.brooklyngrangefarm.com/aboutthegrange/ [i] Brooklyn Grange is the leading rooftop farming and intensive green roofing business in the US. We operate the world’s largest rooftop soil farms, located on two roofs in New York City, and grow over 40,000 lbs of organically-cultivated produce per year. In addition to growing and distributing fresh local vegetables and herbs, Brooklyn Grange also provides urban farming and green roof consulting and installation services to clients worldwide, and we partner with numerous non-profit organizations throughout New York to promote healthy and strong local communities.[/i] Their educational component : CITY GROWERS: connecting urban youth with agriculture, food and environment through farm education and advocacy in order to foster a culture of health and sustainability. City Growers is a non-profit educational organization based at Brooklyn Grange, a one-acre rooftop farm in New York City. The organization’s mission is to coordinate and facilitate school and camp visits that engage young New Yorkers in educational tours and workshops on the farm and in the classroom. City Growers gives students the opportunity to visit a working urban farm, learn about food and the environment, and connect with soil and plants right here in their home city. Educational programming at this unique and inspirational greenroof farm setting empowers children and young adults to envision a greener and healthier future for their city.

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42040 Activity Points

We were just blessed with a young teacher who not only incorprated garneding skills, but had her students attach a pedometer to the kids and see hom many steps they took- i. e. exercise without having to think about it! Not to mention we had a previously empty lot that is not a productive garden that the kids AND families protect

Shannon Hudson
Shannon Hudson
2405 Activity Points

[i]We were just blessed with a young teacher who not only incorprated garneding skills, but had her students attach a pedometer to the kids and see hom many steps they took- i. e. exercise without having to think about it! Not to mention we had a previously empty lot that is not a productive garden that the kids AND families protect [/i] Shannon, This is wonderful that students can get exercise when they garden and can now record the results of their efforts Would love to know more about school and family garden project.

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42040 Activity Points

Our school added a community garden space three growing seasons ago. There are two things I would like to add about our experiences. We are in a large, urban district and many students seemed to have very limited “garden” experience. Previously, I had tried to expose students to a variety of environmental activities in the classroom but found students were most often hesitant to "get their hands dirty." The garden space flipped this scenario upside down! Students loved exploring outside in the garden, hands deep in the earth (to the elbow at times). Outdoor, real-world learning spaces are powerful. The other piece that we had to learn the hard way was including lessons involving "creating space." There was garden misuse afterschool until we had class discussions about what the garden space meant to the school and to the community members. We discussed and wrote Garden Norms and explored (and named out loud) some of intangible benefits to spending time in the garden: stress relief, enjoyment, exercise, stewardship. Perhaps a no-brainer for some teachers, I wish someone had mentioned this to us as we first implemented the Community Garden.

Erick McGinley
Erick McGinley
710 Activity Points

Erick writes: Our school added a community garden space three growing seasons ago. There are two things I would like to add about our experiences. [i]We are in a large, urban district and many students seemed to have very limited “garden” experience. Previously, I had tried to expose students to a variety of environmental activities in the classroom but found students were most often hesitant to "get their hands dirty." The garden space flipped this scenario upside down! Students loved exploring outside in the garden, hands deep in the earth (to the elbow at times). Outdoor, real-world learning spaces are powerful. [/i] [color=green]Wonderful Erick that this has been such a powerful experience for your students. It is so important for our students to get this connection to gardens and growing food. Here in Maine many of the school gardens are now supplementing cafeteria food. Have you gotten to that stage yet ? [/color] [i]The other piece that we had to learn the hard way was including lessons involving "creating space." There was garden misuse afterschool until we had class discussions about what the garden space meant to the school and to the community members. We discussed and wrote Garden Norms and explored (and named out loud) some of intangible benefits to spending time in the garden: stress relief, enjoyment, exercise, stewardship. Perhaps a no-brainer for some teachers, I wish someone had mentioned this to us as we first implemented the Community Garden.[/i] [color=green]Caring for and creating space is so important for students who may not have those spaces in their young lives to find these important places. Taking ownership of spaces and providing sanctuary in their lives.[/color] [color=green]In my next post I am going to give you information about Will Allen , a pioneer urban gardener. I had the good grace to meet him at a conference a few years ago Hope you will be inspire to continue to grow....... With admiration , Arlene [/color]

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42040 Activity Points

I was a volunteer at the 2009 Pop Tech conference and got to meet Will Allen. Will Allen is co-founder and director of Growing Power, Inc., an organization that is transforming the production and delivery of healthy foods to underserved, urban populations. Growing Power operates as an urban farm and education center in Milwaukee, WI, and more recently, Chicago, teaching urban youth how to produce low-cost healthy foods for their communities. This is a 25 minute popcast of his presentation http://poptech.org/popcasts/will_allen_on_urban_farming This is a blog about his presentation http://poptech.org/blog/will_allen_and_the_urban_farming_revolution

Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
42040 Activity Points

If you are doing a school garden, I am not sure if you are all aware that Home Depot will help support it. You contact their community relations persons, take in your tax ID number, and they will make monthly donations towards them if you have one in your area.

Carmen Cruz
Carmen Cruz
2125 Activity Points

Thank you Arlene, and yes, we love Will Allen! What an asset to our community structure. Our garden space was very nearly a Growing Power sponsored hoop house before the community aspect picked up the reins. We mostly still function with a management model that houses individual plots. Beyond environmental education, our classroom has mostly been able to "produce" a lot of tasty math and science projects and recipes for small groups of children. We even dabbled a little with engineering. But I am very glad you bring up the idea of providing food for the cafeteria. I am very interested in that model as we become more comfortable with our gardens and ever-greening thumbs. Can you think of any issues we may need to prepare and care for to help transition to providing food for the whole school? I am worried that there may be hesitations or red-tape issues related to "thinking outside the box (trucks)."

Erick McGinley
Erick McGinley
710 Activity Points

Hello All, I am currently an elementary education student and this forum has been of great help to me. I was thinking of adding a community garden to my lesson plan and this forum has given me some really good ideas. There are some great reasons as to why a community garden is useful and important. As well as some examples for me to implement into my lesson.

Asya Ammons
Asya Ammons
1065 Activity Points

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