School gardens are living laboratories where interdisciplinary lessons come alive. Students are encouraged to become active participants in the learning process. The school garden enhances student education by providing an environment to observe, discover, experiment, nurture and learn. Goals of school gardens often include: experiential learning, inquiry and observation, reconnecting students to nature, discovering how their food and fiber is produced, as well as, promoting physical activity.
On September 1st, the UF/IFAS Extension and Bok Tower Gardens Partnership School and Community Garden Programs launched the Polk County School and Community Garden Association (PSCGA). Thirty gardens joined the association over the summer. The gardens represent k-12 school gardens as well as community gardens sponsored by churches and not-for-profit organizations from throughout Polk County. By joining the association, participating gardens receive access to free garden education and garden resources. Teachers and community members joined together at the inaugural meeting of the association to kick off the 2016/17 growing season.
Edward Bok said, “Wherever your lives may be cast, make you the world a bit better or more beautiful because you have lived in it.” One way we can do this is to help save rare species so future generations can discover their uses and their beauty. The Rare Plant Conservation Program is an expression of Bok Tower Gardens’ conservation mission and works to conserve and enhance our understanding of Florida’s rarest native plants.
UF/IFAS Extension and Bok Tower Gardens have teamed up to help communities, schools and families discover the amazing benefits of gardening. Environmental responsibility and leading healthier lives are at the heart of our Garden programs. The partnership provides educational and technical assistance to those interested in making a difference within their community. The mission of this partnership is to enhance communities through experiential education that promotes healthy living, enriches culture and conserves natural resources, and that is exactly what we are doing here in the Lake Wales community.
The American Beautyberry
Blooming a vibrant purple in the fall, the American Beautyberry is a common species native to the southeast and throughout Florida. Another common name for this edible plant is French Mulberry. It is a beneficial shrub for wildlife, is deciduous, will grow well in shade or sun, and may grow to heights of eight to ten feet. It is easily recognized when it fruits in the fall by its tight clusters of violet to purple berries found near the leaves.