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Think Every School Should Have a Year-Round Organic Garden??  RSS feed

 
Joe Brown
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In 2016 there has been a significant rise in communities with organic gardens, like inner city NY, L.A., Miami and more. All of these gardens help the community in many ways by building pride in the people that live there which rubs off to many other aspects in life (people actually throw away trash, builds companionship in the community, free healthy organic food, etc.), Think about all the good this simple concept can bring to a grade school atmosphere.

Organic Gardens in Grade Schools

School gardens are also a wonderful way to use the schoolyard as a classroom, reconnect students with the natural world and the true source of their food, and teach them valuable gardening and agriculture concepts. They will also learn skills that integrate with several subjects like science, art, health and physical education, as well as empower kids with goals, including personal and social responsibility.

Take a look at this webpage and tell me what you think of bringing this concept to schools, because i think its a great idea.. They also have a FREE eBook so you can spread the gardening knowledge in your neighborhood and spread the love too

Organic Gardens in Grade Schools
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My take on public schools, is that they are sucking the life out of me, and out of my community. I think that we cannot afford them any more. Greenhouses are expensive to construct, and to heat. That's one more dollar that my community simply doesn't have to be spending. You can only get so much blood out of a beet.

However, what a private school wants to do, is fine with me, so long as the money to pay for their program isn't derived from coercing me to pay for it.

 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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Only if they get rid of competitive sports like football.

 
Su Ba
pollinator
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Tyler, I prefer to call contact sports "combat sports". When I was in high school, those kind of sports had heavy emphasis on aggression, attack, winning rather than skill, training, learning the sport. Maybe things are different now, but back then I never understood why we were taught to be aggressive in sports. I totally disliked the combat. I felt it just encouraged aggression in real life.

But back to the topic.......
Many of the schools in my state have gardens of one sort or another. Greenhouses are not common, and that's fine with me. The cost would be way too high, since the government here can't seem to do anything at a reasonable cost. Everything seems to end up costing 10 times more than it appraises for when finished.

In the schools where food growing is a graded course, the gardens look good and are actually productive. I totally am in sync with kids taking a food gardening course. In the schools where gardening is an extra outdoor activity, the gardens are small and are quite pathetic. The children do virtually no useful work and have only transitory interest, if at all. The adult garden supervisor ends up doing the bulk of the work. I personally don't think those gardens teach a thing to the kids. So it sounds nice that the school has a food garden, but it's not worth much to anybody. It does look good on paper though. Makes for a nice newspaper article.

Perhaps a community could lobby their school system to include some sort of "life sciences" curriculum, where food gardening could be part of the course?
 
Casie Becker
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I've seen some very successful grade school gardens in my area. Mostly they are developed though a combination of PTA involvement and the children fund raising. One of the common fundraising / learning combinations is a spring plant sale. The students sell seedlings they started in class. Just a little more variety than the typical beans, and a great learning experience. Between their own efforts, parental involvement and community support, some of the local programs have been able to build their own small green houses. I actually think these programs would be less successful if they were tax funded.

Possibly, if you extend your idea of garden past just the vegetables, children could take part in developing a year round courtyard, without a green house. Combine the annual planting beds, where the seasonal crops are raised, with evergreens, fruit trees, perennials, and paths. There are valuable lessons in the seasonal dormancy and steady spring awakening of nature. They could then also have the additional option of selling perennial divisions with the seedlings, when they raised funds.

At that age group, just planting, tending, and fundraising for a garden can cover almost all of their necessary curriculum. Life stages of insects and plants; natural cycles of soil, water, and air, and seasons; math from counting to geometry; basic money management; team work; reading; writing (if they make signs and labels); some history (if the teachers teach about where the plants are from). If the teachers have just a little imagination, gardens add a lot to the school. Growing it for food is more of a byproduct I think, rather than the main output.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I agree, gardening could be part of a much broader, valuable curriculum of life sciences and "Home Ec." Earlier I was feeling with Joseph about school taxes and how they are already painfully high but our students are getting stupider by the minute. I would love to see contact/conflict sports replaced with gardening in schools.
 
John Weiland
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@Casie B.: "Growing it for food is more of a byproduct I think, rather than the main output."

I'm going to offer a different view with regards to this statement and it comes from some experience at seeing various public gardening efforts and the ultimate destination of the produced at local food banks. As well as educating one's mind regarding permie concepts, one needs to start educating their palate. Maybe I missed it elsewhere in the thread, but in no place did I see comment of the mentoring of children (and adults!) in the harvesting, preparing, and eating the food that was produced via a school garden. (Also, in our region, school is in session when the garden is non-functional....not saying a summer school program couldn't be enacted, but a large part of the school year will not see *direct* involvement in the garden per se.)

Again, from experience, place buttered beets, a pot of borscht, and a plate of Big Macs on a buffet table in front of the *average* member of the public, and which will disappear first? If you don't know the answer, it's the Big Macs.....and if your particular neighborhood would choose otherwise, then your neighborhood is outside of the norm. This is a matter of education....of the palate. And kid's palates need education just like the rest of the student. So I guess my feeling, even considering you hadn't meant it that way, is that we have to move away from considering "food" as anything less than a near sacred sustaining source that we and other creatures on the planet need. For many decades now, our food has been "commodified"....one more commodity with a price tag.....and I'm advocating for moving away from that concept.
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
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John Weiland wrote: Maybe I missed it elsewhere in the thread, but in no place did I see comment of the mentoring of children (and adults!) in the harvesting, preparing, and eating the food that was produced via a school garden.


This is why I see the garden as part of a larger curriculum of, I guess you could call it "life skills" and knowledge - including soil and water science, ecology, botany, biology, growing, harvesting, preparing, preserving, and serving. History of all these aspects could be included as well - "heritage skills" etc.

I don't know if any schools now have "Home Ec" and "Ag." I might be part of the last generation to have those, in a small-town school (high school graduating class of 27 students).
 
Joe Brown
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This is why I see the garden as part of a larger curriculum of, I guess you could call it "life skills" and knowledge - including soil and water science, ecology, botany, biology, growing, harvesting, preparing, preserving, and serving. History of all these aspects could be included as well - "heritage skills" etc.



I completely agree with this statement, having a garden in schools that the students take care of added to the curriculum will not only teach kids all of those crucial life skills but it will also give them a sense of pride in themselves, their school and community. I'm sure any of you have been to a big major city (NY, L.A., etc.) and I'm sure you see how much trash is floating around in the city which is pretty nasty, because there is not enough pride in the city (I'm not saying that's the only reason, but just for arguments sake lol). Having a generation of kids growing up in the environment of "take care of your garden" will rub off in other aspects of their life, "take care of your body", take care of your house", etc.

Its the same concept the military uses, have pride in what you do, where you live and your loved ones. Even when a delinquent kid goes into the military he/she doesn't out the same because they have been broken down and built back up to not only be a model member of society but becomes a person filled with PRIDE. Go to a persons house that is fresh out of the military, take a look at the inside of their car, see how they carry themselves.

I'm not trying to push a "Join the military" agenda hahaha but I am just using that as an example to show what having PRIDE can affect how a person lives, treats their loved ones and the community they live in. Instead of eating a big mac and just throwing the wrapper to the ground.

Organic Gardens in Grade Schools
 
Debra Russell
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I am involved in an after school program where I teach basic permaculture gardening to 3-6 graders. I only have them at school for an hour each week in actual gardening classes. I teach a class on Tues and Thursday. Its very difficult to accomplish all the goals in that short period of time. I must have 2 lessons plans prepared each class. One for good weather and one for bad. Here are an example of things I did in bad weather. I introduced vermaculture during the winter months. The kids love the worms. So we composted all winter in our worm hut. We learned about the soils web of life. I invented games assigning each one a character to become in that web. Example one was organic composting material while others were bacteria, mold, fungus, mold mite, earthworm ect. They each held a piece of yarn of the corresponding food providing character. forming the web of life as they all stood in their inter connecting positions. If their food source died they then had to fall dead too. This really helped the kids understand how the food web worked.
On the first day of class I brought in a garbage bag full of trash. Which contained many plastic bottles cardboard, news papers and kitchen scrapes. I poured it out on the floor asked the kids what I had just dumped out. Of course all said trash. All winter we turned that trash into resources building garden themed items. I have a month left and we have used all those items. We used many 2 liter plastic bottles to winter sow seeds. We used some to build SIP planters. My point is there is much that can be taught in the winter. They have learned about hugekultur, wicking beds, we just received a donation of a table top aquaponic system.
As for the summer break my home connects the school ground where I have set up a permaculture garden that they and their family can come. Seeing how they too can grow a non till garden without purchasing equipment. I am building my own aquaponic system for this summer. My students and neighbor hood kids are welcome to join me in my garden this summer. For those that feel a program like this would be beneficial . I am not a teacher. I am a retired person on a very limited income. I actually go in the whole financially by doing this class. But it is important I feel. I tell the kids I'm too old to change the world. But they aren't. They can change the world they can make it better.
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Su Ba
pollinator
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Debra, that's super! I wish programs like yours succeeded in all the schools.
 
Glenn Herbert
gardener
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A good friend from Tuscaloosa, Alabama has kept me up on this in her hometown: Druid City Garden Project
Her 8-year-old daughter has been involved for years, and she reports great results.
 
Joe Brown
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......I must have 2 lessons plans prepared each class. One for good weather and one for bad. Here are an example of things I did in bad weather. I introduced vermaculture during the winter months. The kids love the worms. So we composted all winter in our worm hut. We learned about the soils web of life. I invented games assigning each one a character to become in that web. Example one was organic composting material while others were bacteria, mold, fungus, mold mite, earthworm ect. They each held a piece of yarn of the corresponding food providing character. forming the web of life as they all stood in their inter connecting positions. If their food source died they then had to fall dead too. This really helped the kids understand how the food web worked.........


Organic Gardens in Grade Schools

Debra that's awesome!!! It really makes me proud to see that there are people out there that truly take something like this to heart AND pass these skills down to the younger generation. Not only is it teaching kids how to grow their own food properly BUT it also shows them that the "trash" that we see on the daily can be reused and re-purposed for something else, like using the 2-liter plastic bottles to sow seeds. Another thing you can also add into the "Garden Curriculum" is to find all the discarded food and add that to the vermicompost for the worms to break it down, and then teach the kids how the process can be useful to make rich soil for other plants.

Then you can actually test them on the "How Garbage Food" can be useful ( For example: how is the food broken down by the worms and what essential chemicals are made as a byproduct that the plants can use, etc.). This could be a spring/summer event. Not only would this give kids a green thumb but it'll also introduce the to Organic Chemistry.

With all these Green technologies being created now a days, its always a good idea to teach kids how to look at the world and certain things in it with a different perspective, trash isn't just simply trash to be thrown away and left by the wayside making the community look nasty as well as perpetuating a wasteful thought process. EVERYTHING can be re-purposed in some beneficial way or another, we just need think of ways to make that happen. You never know you might be teaching the next scientist that changes the face of the world.



Organic Gardens in Grade Schools
 
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