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Old 11-28-2010, 10:44 AM   #1
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Default Gardening in the Schools

In 2 generations, we've gone from almost everyone having gardens of some type to the youngsters not having a clue about how to grow anything. There is still plenty of large-scale agriculture around here, but vegetables are picked up at the grocery store, not from the back yard.

One local school superintendant is determined to help change that. He has signed onto the gardens-in-the-school movement in a big way. One middle school did it last year, 4 more this year, with his goal being one in every school in his district, from elementary to high school. The state is also involved, assisting interested parishes getting a grant for start up expenses.

In this particular program, the emphasis is on the kids actually growing it themselves, getting to sample it and even taking some home for the family to try. They're soliciting help from Master Gardeners, but have stressed that we're only to be "experts" - giving guidance as opposed to us doing the manual labor.

We received a report on the progress, which was very positive. One of the schools requested a small amount of the funds be used to purchase pots - to prepare the veggies at the school for the kids. That was approved. Teenagers were filmed giving their testimonials about how much the program meant to them. A principal gave an account of how many subjects the teachers were able to use in conjunction with the garden. And how they were able to get more cooperation from some problem students so they would be allowed to go to the garden with the rest of the class.

We also heard about one of their mistakes. It seems that one particular school put in not one but 2 gardens - a vegetable garden and a butterfly garden. The cabbage were looking beautiful, then suddenly they overrun with "bugs" which the vegetable gardeners quickly started squishing. Eeeek! Those bugs would be the next generation of butterflies!!!! One of the gardens had to be hastily moved.

I bet they learned more from that experience than if each of the gardens had happily grown in different areas.
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Last edited by biigblueyes; 11-28-2010 at 10:50 AM. Reason: thinking and typing
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Old 11-28-2010, 10:58 AM   #2
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My wife works as a teacher in a very under privileged urban area.
She took her kids out on a hike in upstate NY one day. The some proportion of the kids had trouble walking on uneven trails.
I think none of them had seen a forest / mountain before.


It makes your heart hurt a little bit.
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Old 11-28-2010, 08:12 PM   #3
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Phillip,
It does make your heart hurt. For me, it makes my heart hurt a lot! I also teach these kids. I try every day to expose them to the natural world. Even if its only a tiny bit, a peek out the window at the chickadees in the oaks, a brisk walk around the playground, stopping to watch the rain fall. Anything your wife does for these kids will be meaningful. And they will not only appreciate it, but remember it.

I have students from 20 years ago tell me how they learned about recycling and caring for the Earth from my class. That always makes my heart smile a huge bit!
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Old 11-29-2010, 12:48 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biigblueyes View Post
We also heard about one of their mistakes. It seems that one particular school put in not one but 2 gardens - a vegetable garden and a butterfly garden. The cabbage were looking beautiful, then suddenly they overrun with "bugs" which the vegetable gardeners quickly started squishing. Eeeek! Those bugs would be the next generation of butterflies!!!! One of the gardens had to be hastily moved.

I bet they learned more from that experience than if each of the gardens had happily grown in different areas.
The Cabbage White butterfly is an invasive species, so nothing wrong with squishing those "bugs". But caterpillars on dill, parsley or fennel are likely to be Black Swallowtail butterflies, so it wouldn't be environmentally friendly to squish those.

Having the two gardens could be an excellent way to increase the learning experience for the students. Getting to know about invasive species could be a nice bonus lesson for them.
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Old 11-29-2010, 01:19 PM   #5
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You can use garden covers over cabbage to prevent the Cabbage Whites from laying on them. Taking one garden away will not discourage the Cabbage Whites from finding the cabbage and laying. Actually, planting flowers in the garden encourages pollinators.

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Old 12-12-2010, 12:44 PM   #6
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4-H Wildlife Stewards are trained volunteers and educators who assist students and teachers to create, use and sustain wildlife habitats on school grounds for science learning.
4-H Wildlife Stewards
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Old 12-13-2010, 11:02 AM   #7
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There's also Project Learn Tree, Project Wet, Project Wild, plus there's now a Monarch Teacher Network.

Project Learning Tree

Project WILD

Project WILD

EIRC
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Old 12-14-2010, 09:23 PM   #8
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There's also Project Learn Tree, Project Wet, Project Wild, plus there's now a Monarch Teacher Network.

Project Learning Tree

Project WILD

Project WILD

EIRC
Runmede,
Have you done any of these training programs? John and I just took the Project Wet and Project Wild program last month. Both are very excellent workshops that give you materials and tons of information for environmental education. I also am involved in Monarch Teacher Network.
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Old 12-15-2010, 12:20 PM   #9
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Runmede,
Have you done any of these training programs? John and I just took the Project Wet and Project Wild program last month. Both are very excellent workshops that give you materials and tons of information for environmental education. I also am involved in Monarch Teacher Network.
I've taken all these programs, plus completed the Master Gardener and Master Naturalist programs.
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Old 12-15-2010, 10:18 PM   #10
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Congratulations!
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