The plant starts that the students began as seeds so many months ago are being transplanted into the school garden this month, creating a green garden and inspiring excited students. Now is the time to weed, mulch, and prepare raised beds to support the lush jungle we know will grow over this summer! It is amazing during this month to reflect on the changing colors, from winter browns and grey to summer greens and colors, as well as how much our garden has grown in five years time.
Fall 2012 Spring 2017
One of my favorite parts of garden class is when the students explore the garden to nibble on all the delicious food we grow. There are very few plant labels in the school garden, so the students have to travel through the whole space, identifying their favorite taste-tests by analyzing leaf structure, color, or shape. After a quick check-in with me to positively identify the plant, they are off to forage! Kids have their favorite grazing spots, the "secret" stashes of sorrel and chives. And every new taste-test that emerges from spring to summer is celebrated with joy, curiosity, and hunger stomachs! This week, the favorite new food was raw rhubarb (in moderation).
The Second and Third Grade students at Springwater become soil experts during their two years as Salmon. Ask them and you'll find that they can identify key insects in the garden ecosystem and they'll happily advise you on the best soil components for a healthy garden. They participate in all the other garden activities as well: planting, harvesting, seed saving, weeding. But all along, they think about the soil fertility, the importance of insect diversity, and the energy cycling of plants. These students are truly remarkable!
The Fourth Grade students take great pride in their year of studies. They become worm aficionados! From designing their own worm bin style to discovering worm internal anatomy, they will become passionate about the importance of these easily overlooked, yet essential creatures. They also have lots of fun with the seasonal garden activities, but always keep worms in mind as they do!
What's so interested about compost? A Fifth or Sixth Grader can tell you after a year in gardening class. Waste audits, studying decomposition rates of different materials, learning about the global and social importance of cycling waste; these are only a few key things that the River Otters explore. When they're not problem-solving food waste issues on campus, or mulching in the garden, they'll be studying how to develop a native plant garden! See above for more information.
By the time they reach their final years at Springwater, the students have become true garden leaders. They are integral to preserving and maintaining the garden by seed saving the heirloom and open-pollinated seeds, building trellises and raised beds, and keeping the garden paths safe. They learn the basis tenets of permaculture and use this knowledge to problem solve solutions for the garden and the school through exploring the hugelkultur mulching method, planting perennial and native plants, and actively maintaining soil fertility. They also get to enjoy the tastier rewards of a bountiful garden!