No More Excuses Not To Teach In The Garden!Thu 06 Dec 2012
Story by The Garden School Foundation
The Garden School Foundation (GSF), a non-profit organization in Los Angeles dedicated to garden-based education, has just launched an exciting and ambitious Kickstarter campaign to publish its Seed to Table curriculum.
This curriculum is the product of over seven years working at the 24th Street Elementary School in South Los Angeles, where GSF has built a ¾ acre garden classroom complete with an orchard, vegetable beds, habitat gardens, bicycle blenders, and solar ovens. Working with teachers, students, parents and educators from all over Los Angeles, GSF wanted to create something that would address all of the obstacles people cited when talking about garden-based learning, such as not having the time, know-how, or support to maintain the garden. They also wanted to make it clear to everyone just how easy it is to incorporate gardens into their classroom lessons and bridge the gap between the pressures of standardized tests giving kids meaningful, engaging, experiential learning opportunities.
Teacher Tedd Wakeman, one of the original garden founders at 24th Street, has seen the garden program make a huge impact “on our school, community, and on me as a professional. It has opened doors to curriculum enhancement and creativity that have slowly been closing due to district mandates and state required programs. It has given the hope back that our students truly can get an amazing education in the midst of an environment that is inspiring for us all.”
Building Essential Life Skills
The final curriculum includes 120 lessons and recipes that are follow the same teaching standards as in the classroom, but use kids’ own sense of curiosity and free play to guide their learning, building such essential life skills as teamwork and leadership in the process. Subjects range from Science and Math to Cooking and Nutrition, and they require very little preparation to use. At the 24th Street School, 100% of the teachers have signed on to the program, and all students come out for a garden lesson every other week.
The next step for the Garden School Foundation is to raise the funds to publish this curriculum so that it can be shared with other schools. But they won’t just drop it off with a Science teacher and consider their work done. “Everyone knows that gardens need tending” says GSF Executive Director, Julia Cotts. “You wouldn’t build a library and not hire a librarian. So why build a garden and not hire someone to take care of it and show everyone how to use it? You’re just setting yourself up for disappointment, and you’re not giving the school a real shot at harnessing the incredible, transformative power of school gardens.”
Once they’re ready with their published Seed to Table curriculum, the Garden School Foundation will place trained garden coordinators at school sites to help implement the program through trainings and on-site teaching support.
With a list of new school sites already almost 50 long, the Garden School Foundation has its work cut out for them! But this Kickstarter Campaign is an important first step in setting the standard for garden-based education in schools that need it the most, paving the way for every child in every classroom to access all of the wonderful things gardens have to offer.
Click here to view their Kickstarter Page and, if you like what you see, make a pledge!
Visit www.gardenschoolfoundation.org to find out more about the Garden School Foundation.
About the author: Julia Cotts has been the Executive Director of the Garden School Foundation since 2009. A former student of International Human Rights and graduate of Alice Waters’ Rome Sustainable Food Project in Rome, Italy, Julia came back to Los Angeles ready to bridge her political background and culinary training to give kids a shot at combating the twin ills of diet-related disease and Environmental Racism so prevalent in her hometown.
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