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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Garden Project Overview

Purpose & Goals:
1) Heath & Nutrition-the school garden should be a place to help children learn more about where their food comes from. Students can learn about making food choices for a healthful diet and eating seasonal foods that are grown locally. Learning about where food comes from is a wonderful way to connect to the garden to geography and history. We can work towards comprising a class cookbook of favorite recipes using the crops from the school garde.

2) Outdoor learning- Gardening offers hands-on, experiential learning opportunities in a wide array of disciplines, including the natural and social sciences, math, language arts (e.g., through garden journaling), visual arts (e.g., through garden design and decoration), and nutrition. With recent concern over relatively weak science and math skills among American children, the need for innovation in science and math teaching is apparent. There is mounting evidence that students who participate in school gardening score significantly higher on standardized science achievement tests (Klemmer, 2005).Gardening activities can help to engage students in learning in a way that is more difficult in the classroom. Gardening allows surprises to arise when insects land in the vicinity, when plants are afflicted with mites or fungus, or when the weather surprises everyone and disrupts the plan for the day, for example. These surprises show that nature is in control and they give students immediate and personal reasons for wanting to know the answers to pressing questions.  Because of the engaging nature of garden learning, students with attention deficit and other disorders often find it more suitable for their learning styles. Teachers report fewer discipline problems when science is taught in this sort of experiential manner, for example. Teachers develop useful concepts, such as “invisible walls,” to create a sense of boundaries when learning in the garden.

3) Connection with the community and it’s rich agricultural history- Gardening ties students to the social and material history of the land. Gardeners from the community can be brought in to demonstrate local, traditional gardening techniques and the traditional uses of particular plants. Gardening offers many opportunities for connecting with local history by incorporating native plants and plants grown during specific historical eras.

4) Beautification & school pride-  of school grounds- Like a team sport or mascot, gardening can offer a symbolic focus of school pride and spirit. Gardening offers schools a way of helping children to identify with their school and to feel proud of their own individual contribution. Children know which plants they helped to grow, and they feel proud of them. This can improve school spirit and children’s attitudes toward the school.

Immediate goals:

1) Create garden task force of experts to review and evaluate current design, layout and functionality of the school garden (ie equipment, irrigation, weeding, supplies)
2) Develop plan to address the short term needs of the garden based of the task forces recommendations:  a) prioritize needs, b) develop budget, c) create list of potential volunteers/donors to help, d) research potential grants and donors
3) Discuss short term goals with school administration and teachers- receive input on how the teachers would like to incorporate the garden into their class room (task force to develop an online survey for the teachers)
4) Task force to research potential volunteer organizations that may be willing to develop a relationship with our school garden project (ie Monterey Ag Education, Vista Volunteers, UCCE Master Gardener Program, JLMC)

Long range goals:

1) Create a thriving and robust edible garden (host school activities/events, create a school farmers market, host cooking classes, create school cook books, etc)
2) Create a beautiful outdoor classroom that our students and teachers want to utilize and our school community is proud of (develop a lunch time rotation for classroom to enjoy the garden as a perk, enlist a team of local experts to help our teachers will lessons, etc.)
3) Create a student/parent/community volunteer garden program that encourages school involvement and creates a sense of school community that everyone can be proud of.

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