A growing body of evidence suggests that significant changes in childhood have occurred over the past several decades relating to children’s experiences in nature. While there are always exceptions, there are strong indicators of an absence of direct experience with the natural world in many children’s everyday lives (Cheryl Charles, Ph.D., and Richard Louv). With this information in mind I set out to build a school garden at my old school in the hope to bring back that connection between children and nature. At Chelwood Elementary School I spent around a month to built six raised garden beds and four pallet garden beds. With these in place I worked with the schools third graders to plant, water, care for and eventually harvest food from the garden. Carrots, okra, basil, green bell peppers and tomatoes are among some of the foods grown in the school’s garden. Once the students had harvested the food it was cleaned, bagged and eventually sent home with them so their families could hopefully eat and cook with the veggies grown in the garden. Towards the end of my project I worked with the schools principal and a handful of other teachers on ways to keep the garden going once I was no longer there to help out and maintain the area. Some ideas that were presented included accessing a grant to pay a stipend for a teacher to officially maintain the garden, construct a parent gardening organization so that parents could take over the care of the area, and adding garden care to one of the custodians official job descriptions. After the first harvest was over I created a small survey to be given to the students. On the survey question asking if they would like to continue working in the garden, the students unanimously answered “yes”.
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