A child’s sense of awe comes alive in the garden. Watching worms flex and bend as the soil is turned over, munching on kale and chives, rolling oats for porridge, cleaning seeds for winter storage – these are tasks that form a connection to nature. Our Gardening Program engages students in meaningful tasks while they learn to care for the Earth and contribute to the greater community.
Our students are active in all aspects of gardening: digging, mulching, composting, planting, weeding, hoeing, transplanting, seed saving, harvesting and enjoying the fruits of their labors. The gardening program complements the existing curriculum and we take care to create a developmentally appropriate series of learning experiences that develops skills to last a lifetime.
Grade Three – We focus on grains, edible seeds and peas. For example, oats are sown, weeded, harvested, eaten, and cleaned for winter storage. Measurement is part of the curriculum for this age, so we assess the area it takes to grow the grain and compare it to the volume it occupies when harvested, threshed, winnowed, soaked, cooked and then eaten.
Grade Four – Myth and Legend come alive in the garden with a Native American focus in this grade level. In the fall the fourth graders build Selu, the Cherokee Corn Goddess, out of corn stalks and flowers. While making bracelets out of corn kernels, the story of the First Corn Mother is shared. As part of the “Three Sisters” folklore, beans and squash are tended alongside the corn.
Grade Five – We move into a more academic approach to our subject. Record keeping and journaling figure prominently this year. To enhance the classroom botany studies, students draw all parts of individual crops and make comparisons among various plant families to discern patterns and contrasts. Grade Five students also propagate plants for the school’s Native Plant Nursery.
Grade Six – As these students study Geology, they learn to transform dirt into soil by managing our compost and vermicompost systems. They also manage the gardening business ventures as part of their business math curriculum.
Grade Seven – Chemistry is brought to the garden in Grade Seven as students perform soil testing while learning about soil amendments and cover cropping techniques. Students make comparative tests between fall and spring after designing their own soil building experiments.
Grade Eight – These students collect and maintain the climate data for the site as part of their studies in Meteorology. Eighth graders also give back to the school community by installing and maintaining permaculture systems: swales, ditches, catchement basins. rain gardens, native plantings and perennial systems.