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.
Each school garden is unique and reflects the culture of the individual school site. Although, there are a few steps that all the garden leaders must take into account when planning a successful project. One of the first steps in creating a sustainable school garden is to clearly define the goal of the school garden. In the case of Kathleen Elementary, the garden began as an idea by Danielle Emmons, Science Coach, to incorporate more experiential learning opportunities for the 4 th grade Science classes. She believed an edible garden would assist in bringing science standards to life, especially plant life cycles and structures.
As a member of the Polk County School and Community Garden Association, Kathleen Elementary received resources to help support the school garden project. On September 12, Ms. Caballero’s 4th grade science classes began their garden build. Students laid groundcloth and assembled 2 cedar raised beds. Students displayed great teamwork and cooperation constructing the raised beds. There was great fanfare and support from faculty, students and volunteers walking by the construction project. However, the hardwork was not yet finished!
The next day the students filled the beds with soil and prepared for planting. Extension Agent, Erin Elsberry, led the planting event with a demonstration of square foot gardening. Students planted tomato, pepper, and eggplant transplants in the raised beds. They were extremely inquisitive throughout the planting event. It became evident the garden project had already captured the students’ curiosity and engaged them in the learning process.
If you are interested in learning more about school gardening or joining the Polk County School and Community Garden Association, please contact Erin Elsberry at 863-455- 5283, firstname.lastname@example.org.