This project seeks to improve and expand school gardens in the North Lawrence Community School System by connecting three teachers to learn more about options for curriculum integration and plant management from the Edible Schoolyard Academy in Berkeley, California. Project activities will include: 1) intensive group study of three different books about school garden development, 2) tours of 3-4 existing school garden programs in the Indianapolis area that are currently affiliated with the Edible Schoolyard Project Network, 3) development and expansion of an NLCS school garden demonstration site at Lincoln Elementary, and 4) district garden trainings for teachers.
Detailed Project Plan and Timeline
Students will specifically learn about sustainable agriculture through engagement with a garden classroom and school kitchen. The curriculum used in this space will follow the Edible Schoolyard model and focus on the following essential elements, all connected to the three pillars of a sustainable food system:
- Sustainability. By providing physical and sensory engagement with the garden classroom, students will have the opportunity to touch, see, taste, and smell the natural world. The more they engage with the garden, the deeper their personal connection to the environment becomes. When students have a personal relationship with the natural world, they are more likely to become responsible land stewards as adults. A related lesson could be a compost experiment, where different types of small compost piles are built, managed, and compared to learn about matter cycles and soil microbe populations.
- Nourishment. Students will have the opportunity to engage with the whole process of growing food; seeding plants, weeding, watering and harvesting them. We will then work with our school cafeteria to create opportunities for the students to practice eating the healthy fruits and vegetables that come from the garden. An example lesson could connect discussion of My Plate and the importance of vegetables in human health, to preparation and eating of a basic dressing and salad that incorporates different greens from the garden.
- Life Skills. In collaboration with our school cafeteria, we will provide opportunities for students to learn and practice cooking skills. They will experiment with reading recipes, selecting foods and spices that go together, using kitchen tools, and preparing healthy, balanced, delicious, and affordable meals. An example lesson could include preparing a soup with vegetables harvested from the fall garden and then calculating the cost of the meal ingredients, comparing the expense of store-bought produce with that harvested from a home garden.
- Academics. Comprehension of traditional academic subjects will be improved by student engagement with the garden classroom. A science lesson about the water cycle and the greenhouse effect can be connected to the role of different garden mulches to conserve moisture and foster drought resilience in a changing climate. A history lesson about the ancient trade routes of the China Silk Road could be played out in a kitchen game where students must trade for ingredients to prepare a culturally relevant dish.
- Communication. Cooperation is essential to the success and sustainability of any community. Hands on work projects in the garden will provide students opportunities to work with and learn alongside other students who are different from them. They can practice collaboration and teamwork to successfully complete a common goal, learning important listening and leadership skills. An example lesson could be assigning groups of students to collectively press cider and present about the diversity of apple varieties.
Educational & Outreach Activities
March- May 2017
- I purchase books for garden team group study (Amy Spence: Lincoln Grade 3, Angie Tieman: Shawswick Middle School teacher, and me) Rachel borrowed as well
- Edible Schoolyard: A Universal Idea by Alice Waters
- How to Grow a School Garden: A Complete Guide for Parents and Teachers by Bucklin-Sporer and Pringle
- The Garden Classroom: Hands-On Activities in Math, Science, Literacy, & Art by Cathy James
- We read these books and had book studies over the summer for these 3 books.
- We established a framework for garden expansion at Lincoln Elementary: install raised beds, fill with soil, start seeds, plant fruit trees, etc.
- We (students and teachers) painted the wood pieces, constructed and installed the raised beds, filled the beds with compost, Miracle Gro garden soil, and planted our seedlings (we grew the seedlings from seeds in our greenhouse in March). We planted 6 apple trees and 8 pear trees in our orchard. We planted 4 raspberry bushes, 4 blackberry bushes, and 2 blueberry bushes in our garden area.
June and July 2017
- We (Amy, Angie, & Jamie) met monthly for our Edible Schoolyard garden book study at Lincoln Elementary School.
- We (Amy, Rachel, Karen, and Jamie) toured 4 Indianapolis school gardens on June 28. Locations included: 1) Growing Places Indy with Linda Cook 727 N. Oriental Street, Indianapolis, 46202 2) IPS School 39: William McKinley Principal Stacy Coleman and Kitchen Community with Theresa Vernon 3) IPS School 15: Thomas Gregg Kitchen Community with Theresa Vernon 4) Paramount School of Excellence STEAM Program
- We worked on the garden by weeding, watering, harvesting with the students biweekly.
- We shared a Google Slides presentation about our summer garden research and experiments with all Lincoln Elementary teachers at the start of the school year.
- We collaborated with interested teachers and Purdue Extension educators to design curriculum and garden changes based on information learned through summer book study and Indianapolis garden tours.
- We continued our garden management.
- Amy and Jamie took a Purdue Master Gardener course for the entire semester.
- I made a Google Photo Share Album for some of their work. https://photos.app.goo.gl/F4rh8hib5QbfLbj82
September and October 2017
- We continued garden management.
- We planted Lincoln Elementary’s fall garden in September.
- We implemented new lesson plans to in-school activities in classrooms.
- We implemented new lesson plans to the afterschool Lincoln Green Thumbs garden club’s activities.
- We organized 2 kitchen classes with Purdue Extension Office’s Nutrition Education Program’s Community Wellness Coordinator, Extension Educators, and Assistant and they were taught to the afterschool Lincoln Green Thumbs garden club.
- We organized and taught 8 kitchen classes to the afterschool Lincoln Green Thumbs garden club.
November 2017 – February 2018
- We organized 4 kitchen classes with Purdue Extension Office’s Nutrition Education Program’s Community Wellness Coordinator, Extension Educators, and Assistant to be taught to the afterschool Lincoln Green Thumbs garden club.
- I compiled an electronic resource binder for other corporation schools interested in starting a garden. I included LGT pictures, LGT history, sample garden designs, planting and maintenance schedule, garden budgets, fundraising resources, volunteer resources, garden and cooking lessons, and more .
- Amy and Jamie passed the Purdue Master Gardener course.
- I prepared a presentation about lessons learned from book study, garden tours, and implementation at Lincoln Elementary demonstration site. Rachel shared this presentation at staff meetings for four NLCS schools in the city of Bedford: Parkview Elementary, Parkview Intermediate, Stalker Elementary, and Bedford Middle School.
- I answered questions from interested teachers about our project. We work with Purdue Extension and Master Gardeners to help other schools develop their own garden project ideas.
- I created 2018 Lincoln Elementary Garden plan, based on ESY examples and suggestions.
- I developed additional lesson plans, based on ESY examples and suggestions.
- I prepped and planted spring and summer gardens.
- I implemented new ESY lesson plans.
- I organized a family volunteer group to manage the gardens over summer break.
- I organized and implemented five summer enrichment activities based in the garden and passed out produce from the garden to children attending the free lunches at Lincoln Elementary School.
- I compiled an electronic resource binder for other teachers in my corporation’s schools interested in starting a garden. It includes sample garden design, planting and maintenance schedule, garden budget, fundraising resources, volunteer resources, and lesson samples.
- Two other teachers within the school corporation (Amy Spence and Melody Allen) and I attended the School Garden Teacher Training at Occidental Arts & Ecology Center in Occidental, California for a week. (www.oaec.org)
- Held an open house for NLCS teachers, students, and parents to see progress and changes at the Lincoln Elementary Garden. Many signed up to help out for this school year.
In 2016/2017 Lincoln Green Thumbs had 42 members.
In 2017/2018 Lincoln Green Thumbs had 92 members.
A student from southern Indiana stated that cooking with food from the garden was so awesome. She said that she did not know that we could add herbs to vegetables to make them taste better.
I truly think that this S.A.R.E. grant has changed many young lives in southern Indiana. It has opened up career options that some children never knew existed. Their minds are much more open to permaculture and their local environment. It was fantastic! Thank you for this opportunity!!