Schools find ways to make gardening classes flourish – News-Herald


Catherine ross

Like general gardening, school gardening is very popular during a pandemic, and families and teachers say the practical lessons can be applied to many topics.

Finding the expertise, effort and funding to maintain a schoolyard can be difficult. However, some professionals and teachers are finding creative ways to make it work.

“The garden is a great way to get kids out with a purpose. The garden allows them to see the beginning, the middle and the end of the project and to achieve concrete results. “Masu,” says Susan Hobert, a former elementary school teacher at Lakeview Elementary School in Madison, Wisconsin. Comes with 12 raised beds.

“The garden relaxes kids and gives them a whole different perspective that you can’t get just sitting at your desk,” she says.

Each spring, the school program cultivates seedlings through a training program at a nearby state prison. During the spring break, a group of churches come to prepare the garden for the return of the children and during the summer, volunteers from Americop look after the garden.

“If I had to buy a shrub it would cost $ 3 per shrub and I couldn’t afford it,” says Hobert.

“If you look at your relationship, the community around you, and all the larger networks, there are many creative ways to find help.”

When Michelle Obama planted a garden at the White House and asked elementary students for help, interest in the school’s garden increased dramatically, said Toby Adams, who oversees the Edible Academy of Three. acres at the New York Botanical Gardens in the Bronx. to say. Another interest has grown since the start of the pandemic.

In the school garden, you can give practical lessons in health, science, social studies, as well as humanities and arts lessons.

“Fortunately, the big trend right now is the growing number of organizations and support networks, especially regional networks, to support school gardens,” Adams says. “And since the pandemic, online learning has really exploded. “

“Especially if the teacher is excited about it, it gives the kids a chance to come out and get their hands dirty and find the worm, which is huge,” he says.

For schools with small gardens but no space, looking at botanical gardens and local parks may be the solution.

“We are in the Bronx. The Bronx is essentially a 6 story wall apartment. It has limited space and vandalism, and attracts 30 children, not to mention issues such as access to water. It’s hard to find the right place for you, ”says Adams.

“Gardening doesn’t have to be a big lot outside. It could be a container garden, a hydroponic garden – there are all kinds of gardens and the way it works, ”he says.

Hobert suggests finding a master gardener program that can be offered by the university, as graduates must work free labor hours to qualify. “It took me ten years to get here, but I did,” she says.

Nathan Larson, head of the Cultivate Health Initiative, a joint project between the University of Wisconsin-Madison and statewide partners to support Wisconsin school gardens, said when he realized the group supported two gardens, each within a radius of five miles. They say the time for “Ahaha” has come. Others, and neither of them knew that others existed.

“It became evident that the teachers and parents involved in the school yard felt isolated and didn’t know where to look for help,” said Larson, who wrote the free downloadable book Teaching in Nature’s Classroom. Said.

At the national level, the two main resources for school gardens are the national farm-to-school network and the network of school garden support organizations.

There is also a National Symposium for Children and Youth sponsored by the American Horticultural Society, which trains teachers. Symposia are organized every year in various regions of the country. It has been online for two years.

Based in Santa Cruz, California, LifeLab offers workshops for educators across the country on how to attract young people to their gardens and farms. The Junior Master Gardener Program is a youth gardening program run by a collaborative extension network at the University of Texas A&M. Other resources for teachers and others include the National COVID-19 Field Learning Initiative, Edible Schoolyard Network, Slow Food USA School Garden Network and Big Green.

Ron Finley has candidly supported the transformative power of teaching city kids about species and growth. His non-profit Ron Finley project aims to “change the culture around food”.

Finley recalls being surprised as a child when he witnessed “the seed literally destroys itself and becomes food” as part of a class project at a school in south-central Los. Angeles.

“Having a garden at school is just as important as any other education,” says Finley. “The act of gardening learns where our food sources come from and respects the soil. If children respect the soil, they respect themselves and that Respects the planet. Gardening should be part of the main program. Gardening is not a hobby, but a life skill. I think this is one of the most valuable lessons of mankind. “

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