Community Action Proposal :School Community Garden Social Education Group Members: Carrie Wolgamott Jennifer Escobedo
The Inspiration Question: How could we use this plot of land to help and improve the school and the surrounding community?
The Solution A School Community Garden
Why a School Community Garden? Gardens are a fantastic learning tool for children. Most kids have a natural love of gardening, and their enthusiasm often spills over into the school subjects that are related to the garden. All of the traditional subjects, including math, science, language arts, visual arts, and social studies, can be taught in the garden as well as in the classroom. • A school garden is a perfect tool to provide hands-on learning experiences for any academic subject. 5 Ways that Community Gardens are Valuable: 1. Building Communities 2. Improving Nutrition and Reducing Hunger 3. Helping the Environment 4. Providing Income 5. Getting Physical Exercise, Increasing Health and Pride
Who Can Help?Urban Harvest • Urban Harvest is a nonprofit organization that uses fruit, vegetable and habitat gardens to improve quality of life in the greater Houston area. • These gardens serve to educate, strengthen community spirit, create therapeutic environments and provide food and income. Schools & Youth Garden Program Part of Urban Harvest's mission is to improve the quality of youth education in greater Houston through growing outdoor classrooms at schools.
What do you need to start one? • Ingredients: • Small group of enthusiastic adults • Sunny spot with access to a water tap • Budget for materials • Basic organic gardening knowledge
Who else has started one? Houston Schools with Successful School Gardens: Robert Browning Elementary Cedar Brook Elementary
Required Resources Supplies for the Garden: • Raised bed frames • Soil to fill the raised beds, mulch to insulate on top • Path materials, fencing (optional), water connection and irrigation • Tools • Fertilizers & pest repellents • Seeds and young plants, other miscellaneous supplies
The Educational Value A School Community Garden is the perfect tool to provide hands-on learning experiences for any academic subject and concepts that might seem abstract in the classroom come alive in a garden setting.
Subjects Taught in the Outdoor Classroom Gardens complement the traditional curriculum by providing an opportunity for students to apply what they learn in the classroom. This is crucial because everyone, but most especially children, remember and understand better when they do things rather than just reading or hearing about them. MathematicsChildren use math as a powerful planning tool in the garden. They calculate how many tomato plants should go in each bed, how far apart they should be, and how many pounds of produce they might expect from such a planting. Reading, Writing and Speaking A garden is a lot to talk about! It’s also a lot to read about, and write about. The garden provides exciting topics for oral presentations, informal debates on what to plant, and independent research papers. Students can also keep garden journals or connect with the community by interviewing local landscapers, chefs, botanists, immigrants, or garden club members on what a garden means to them. A garden can even be the opening topic of an oral tradition project with the student’s grandparents. Social StudiesA garden makes textbooks come alive. Students can make a meaningful connection with Southern history by planting collards, peanuts, cotton, okra, or sugarcane. Plants like jalapeño peppers, bokchoi, and Asian varieties of familiar vegetables can provide a tangible introduction to other cultures. Students can experience democracy firsthand as they collectively decide on what, where, and when to plant, as well as how to delegate duties and distribute the harvest.
Subjects Taught in the Outdoor Classroom ScienceStudents observing their garden can see the dynamic interaction of plants, insects and small wildlife, weather, soil, and energy over a long period of time. The dynamic exchanges of nature cannot be understood in a single field trip to the nature center; it can only be understood through an extended period of interaction and observation. In the garden, students can watch the world around them change throughout the year. It can be a laboratory where students learn to ask questions and seek answers through their own research and experiments. Such a laboratory is priceless. Life SkillsStudents must be responsible towards the plants that are depending on them, and they must work together to accomplish their goals. Students learn to resolve conflicts and reach a consensus when making decisions concerning the garden. The school garden is a space where children learn about interpersonal skills, organization and management, making commitments, and respecting opinions. A school garden provides a wealth of opportunities for learning. It is an outdoor extension of the classroom, where traditional material takes on new meaning as students make connections between textbooks and the real world.
The Connection to Standards Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills: Social Studies • Economics. The student understands that basic human needs are met in many ways. The student is expected to: (A) identify basic human needs; and (B) explain how basic human needs of food, clothing, and shelter can be met. • Culture. The student understands similarities and differences among people. The student is expected to: (A) identify personal attributes common to all people such as physical characteristics; and (B) identify differences among people. Math • Number, operation, and quantitative reasoning. The student uses whole numbers to describe and compare quantities. The student is expected to: A) compare and order whole numbers up to 99 (less than, greater than, or equal to) using sets of concrete objects and pictorial models; • Probability and statistics. The student displays data in an organized form. The student is expected to: (A) collect and sort data; and (B) use organized data to construct real-object graphs, picture graphs, and bar-type graphs.
The Connection to Standards Science • Science concepts. The student knows that many types of change occur. The student is expected to: (A) observe, measure, and record changes in size, mass, color, position, quantity, sound, and movement; (B) identify and test ways that heat may cause change such as when ice melts; (C) observe and record changes in weather from day to day and over seasons; and (D) observe and record changes in the life cycle of organisms. • Scientific processes. The student conducts classroom and field investigations following home and school safety procedures. The student is expected to: (A) demonstrate safe practices during classroom and field investigations; and (B) learn how to use and conserve resources and materials. Language Arts • Listening/speaking/culture. The student listens and speaks to gain knowledge of his/her own culture, the culture of others, and the common elements of cultures. The student is expected to: (A) connect experiences and ideas with those of others through speaking and listening (K-3); and (B) compare language and oral traditions (family stories) that reflect customs, regions, and cultures (K-3). • Reading/literary response. The student responds to various texts. The student is expected to: (A) respond to stories and poems in ways that reflect understanding and interpretation in discussion (speculating, questioning) in writing, and through movement, music, art, and drama (2-3); (B) demonstrate understanding of informational text in various ways such as through writing, illustrating, developing demonstrations, and using available technology (2-3);
The Connection to Standards NCSS Theme: Culture • Give examples and describe the importance of cultural unity and diversity within and across groups. People, Places, & Environments • Construct and use mental maps of locales, regions, and the world that demonstrate understanding of relative location, direction, size, and shape. • Estimate distance and calculate scale. Individual Development & Identity • Describe the unique features of one’s nuclear and extended families. • Identify and describe ways family, groups, and community influence the individual’s daily life and personal choices.
The Project To create a school community garden. How? • A team of teachers, parents and members of the community are needed. They need to decide which curriculum objectives they want to reinforce and then decide what resources are needed within the garden in order to accomplish those goals. An outdoor classroom garden becomes a learning opportunity only when teachers are capable of seeing how curriculum objectives can be taught in the outdoor classroom. • A team of many individuals is needed to establish curriculum links to the garden, find funding, set up volunteers, and provide knowledge on gardening and maintenance of the garden.
How to begin: • Interested teachers should take the free How to Start class offered by Urban Harvest. It includes the basic steps to creating a garden and tips for success. Other Services offered by Urban Harvest: Summer Workshop for Schools Each summer Urban Harvest hosts a workshop for teachers, parents and others working with outdoor classrooms. Workshop content is new each year and includes sessions for those in the early planning stages of a new garden as well as for schools with existing gardens. Lecturers include local outdoor classroom instructors, who share what they are doing and what works for them. The workshop is designed to address elementary, middle, and high school outdoor classrooms. Design and Curriculum Assistance Staff is available to schools who have attended the How to Start a Community Garden to assist teachers in:Developing a plan for an outdoor classroom (purpose, design, budget, staffing, financing)Developing teaching programs for the outdoor classroom
Funding Your School Garden Getting the funds to establish a school garden is not as difficult as many people think. Many schools in the Houston area, as well as in other cities and states, have already been successful in creating school gardens. Steps: • Determine a Budget Funding Sources: If you are an ISD public elementary school, there is a terrific funding source from the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). In 1999, HB 2631 was passed, which authorizes the TDA to make grants of up to $2500 to elementary schools in urban areas to fund demonstration agricultural projects such as vegetable gardens. Applications are due in December, and grants are awarded in March for one year. Only one school per school district may receive the funding per school year. Proposals must be submitted by a Texas public elementary school from an urban school district with an enrollment of at least 49,000 students. Examples of districts of this size include Houston, Cypress-Fairbanks, Fort Bend, and Aldine. Other Ways to Find Funding: • Seek Funding Within the School • Reach out to Corporations
Timeline First Month • Gathering a team of teachers, parents, and volunteers to help with the “School Community Garden”. • The student’s will help to plan and design the garden. They will help decide on what, where, and when to plant, as well as how to delegate duties and distribute the harvest. • Flyers about the “School Community Garden” will be delivered to all the surrounding neighborhoods. • During this whole month, volunteers that can make it will go to the free gardening classes at Urban Harvest. Here they will learn about the basics of gardening and the information that is learned here will be passed on to the other volunteers and students. Second Month • Actual building and planting of the garden occurs. • Materials needed to build the garden will be purchased and installed like the water irrigation system and garden boxes. • Student’s will use the gardening tools to help plant the fruits and vegetables. • The Urban Harvest associates will also come out to the school to help us set up and to give us advice.
Continuation of Timeline Third and Fourth Month • During these months the garden will be maintained and tended to. • Lessons and activities can be held in the garden at this time because this is when the plants are starting to grow. • Towards the end of the fourth month the student’s and volunteers will be picking the produce and loading it into boxes. Half of the boxes will go to a Farmer’s Market to be sold and the other half will go to local food pantries and to the local families who are in need of good nutrition. • With the money more supplies will be bought to keep the garden going. Fifth Month and On • The planting cycle will start all over again!! • The “School Community Garden” is something that will be around for years and years and it is very beneficial for all of those who are involved!! • The student’s will continuously work with the community members and build constant unity.