Academic journal article Science and Children

The Farmer and the Bell

Academic journal article Science and Children

The Farmer and the Bell

Article excerpt

School vegetable gardens are often in the news these days--the White House even involved local schools in its kitchen garden. Sometimes it's with a tinge of controversy, as with most things health-related--do they really contribute to healthy eating? More important to S&C readers, do they enhance learning? The Cornell Garden-Based Learning project says yes, with an overview of research findings at www.csgn.org/images/pdf/academicsBrief.pdf. Another resource is the Farm to School and School Garden Research Consortium, http://data dorksunite.ning.com.

If you just want to get your hands dirty, read on to find out where to get more information on starting your own school garden.

Planning Season

Though summer is prime growing season in most of the country, there is no reason why you can't garden with your students in fall and spring with cool season vegetables (and even in winter with protection, such as row cover or plastic greenhouses). Summer is the perfect time to get the permissions you need, assemble a volunteer team, prepare the garden bed (including a soil test), and coordinate the ties to your curriculum. National Environmental Education Week has a number of curricula that are standards-based and organized by grade level at www.eeweek.org/resources/garden_curricula.htm.

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If you lack space, many edible plants can be grown in pots--look for miniature varieties or grow leafy or root vegetables and herbs. If there is not a patch of soil on your school property, try growing up a wall! At www.woollyschoolgarden.org, if you lack the funds too, sign up and wait for the money to be raised for your school to receive a vertical garden and supplies.

If you are a gardening novice, spend the summer reading and practicing in your own garden or at a local community garden. Most of the resources here provide basic information about gardening, but you may want to visit your local garden center to get advice and suggestions for appropriate plants for your climate. While you're there, ask if they would like to donate any tools or seeds.

You'll need help, so remember, Master Gardeners are required to do community service--contact your cooperative local extension service to see if you can find an expert volunteer. Another program that is just getting started is FoodCorps (http://food-corps.org), sort of an Americorps for school gardens. Finally, seek out gardening parents in your PTA. If you are looking for a community to support you, check out this weekly (Thursday, 6 p.m. PST) tweet chat: http://schoolgardenweekly.com/schoolgardenchat.

Cornell Garden-Based Learning

http://blogs.cornell.edu/garden

This project of Cornell University includes information for both new and established gardens, including activities and ways to network with other schools.

Growing, Eating, Living: A Garden Guide for Head Start

http://caheadstart.org/HeadStartGardenGuide07.pdf

This guide covers gardening with the youngest students. In addition to planning steps, it includes gardening information such as choosing a site, selecting varieties good for children, and avoiding poisonous plants.

KidsGardening. …

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