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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation

Gardens and Student Engagement

Gardens and Student Engagement

Related Tags: Environmental Education
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2 Replies 920 Views
I was just reading about Terra Nova High, an Oregon school that runs a small farm and community-supported agriculture enterprise. There's a nice piece about it here (including a digital story): http://tinyurl.com/yb5lguw What catches my attention are the voices of students who were previously disengaged from school. They've found a place to connect here. I'm curious if others have seen similar results, planned or unintended?

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cyndy power's picture

Trying to find the best way to continue our Green school ideas. I hope I will be inspired by a child -friendly idea.

Jason Flom's picture
Jason Flom
Director-Elect in Tallahassee, FL

Several years ago at my school, we tried to give each class (or grade) a vegetable garden of their own to manage. With the help of volunteers and a garden committee, teachers worked in the gardens on a regular basis with their students. However, we found the design lacked the flexibility and diversity to engage and keep teacher interest.

Some teachers wanted to grow salad greens to donate to a local Shelter, others wanted gardens that matched themes from their curriculum (Civil War era heirloom garden), while still others wanted gardens that promoted wildlife.

Now we have approximately 20 different types of gardens designed for a variety of interests. The preschool enjoys a whimsical Peter Rabbit garden with lots of stepping stones, cabbage, carrots, and lettuce. They also enjoy a butterfly garden made up of mostly perennials. Another class has been developing a birding area outside their window (for about 5 years now!), while another designed, implemented, and oversees a rain garden to curb erosion. In the spring, my students keep a series of basil beds that are sold at a local market.

We've found that by having a number of smaller projects that are easier for teachers to manage, they are more likely to find success and engage the students in them.

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