Our school acquired a garden through an Eagle project. It was a wonderful contribution to our school.
Building the garden was one thing (the Eagle Scout candidate led that effort).
Planting the garden was another thing entirely. I had extremely limited gardening experience and no idea how to begin. I wasn’t sure what supplies we needed, how many plants, or even how much topsoil to buy.
Awesome parents to the rescue! A parent whose family owned a nursery helped us plant the garden.
The garden was so incredibly exciting that it permeated our class culture.
My students and I knew the garden would make learning come alive, but that didn’t prepare us for the exciting reality. Every aspect of the project was an adventure. We got in the green thumb mood by watching John Denver sing “The Garden Song” with the Muppets.
We made academic preparations for their garden by studying the life cycle of a plant and learning about the vegetables they would grow. We relished every step in creating and tending to the garden. To third graders, pulling out weeds so we could lay the topsoil was thrilling. Did you know an entire class of third graders can fit into one of those garden boxes and weed it, all at the same time? That was a moment I’ll never forget.
Before we planted the garden, most of my students’ experience with vegetables was limited to tagging along at the grocery store and making “icky” faces when forced to eat those awful organic substances. After planting our garden, my students were asking for more vegetables at home and closely monitoring the status of their garden. Students were enchanted when our garden attracted dozens of bees happily buzzing to and fro, just like in storybooks. The kids launched an aphid control campaign to capture ladybugs from our soccer field and transport them to the garden.
The garden has sparked a feeling of community among my students. They manage their own garden club and have written dozens of just-for-fun reports about plants, vegetables and garden bugs. My third graders consider themselves emissaries of the school garden and enthusiastically share their knowledge with younger students. The excitement when we harvested for two separate salad parties was almost more than they could bear.
We created awesome class books to thank the Eagle Scout who created the garden for us, the family who helped us, and the nursery that donated plants and materials. The kids worked harder on those books than any class book we ever created. Their gratitude was just so immense.