Did you know that Gateway Greening offers field trips to the Demonstration Garden and Gateway Greening Urban Farm?
Clay Elementary’s second-grade class did! They recently spent a morning at the Bell Demonstration & Community Garden with Gateway Greening educators Carolyn and Kathleen, exploring the colors, sounds, textures, and even tastes of the plants growing there. The field trip began with a scavenger hunt, with kids and chaperones scattering to the far corners of the extensive garden space to hunt for colors, shapes, and organisms. Without realizing it, the students were practicing simple math and descriptive language as part of the fun!
Once the kids had burned off a bit of energy (and explored every inch of the garden thoroughly) they were invited to meet the long-time residents of the PURINA community coop – Fat George and the rest of her flock! These chickens are always a favorite with the kids, coming close to the coop’s screens to be fed and admired by all while the educators spoke a bit about how to care for and raise chickens. Biology is always more interesting when the subject of the lesson squawks back!
One of the best things about taking kids outside and into the garden for lessons is how eager they are to try and do absolutely everything – even spread mulch. Students learned all about working together to accomplish tasks as they shoveled, carted, and spread mulch in one of Bell Garden’s many native plant beds. (It also proved to be a handy way to start a conversation about building healthy soil!)
But without a doubt, the best part of the field trip was making ‘herbal’ lemonade from scratch, using fresh lemons, sugar, water, and fresh-picked herbs straight from the surrounding garden. Not only was it tasty to drink, but the kids had a blast asking questions and picking herbs to flavor their lemonade!
Does anyone else find themselves wishing they could go back to being a kid for a day? I know I sure did – it all looked like fun!
-Gateway Greening AmeriCorps VISTA Erin Wood
What are school gardens without a place to sit? As a school garden educator, seating is the first thing I tackle when I go into a new school garden setting. I have quickly learned that gardens that do not accommodate seating for the whole class run poorly. When classes come out to the garden they need the same kind of structure and routine as they do when they are indoors. Having a place to sit and center before starting garden related activities is an essential step to having a successful outdoor experience.
There are many options when it comes to outdoors seating as you see below. My favorite type by far is the one we make ourselves using stumps from forestry department. I like that it is easy and free to create but I mostly love it because it allows each student to have his or her stump. Crowding on a limited seating outdoors is often a problem and inadvertently leads students squabbling over something.
Summer is the time when educators have time to take a deep breath and evaluate what worked and how we can do things differently next year. This summer put outdoor classroom on your radar when doing such an evaluation. Be sure to ask yourself if your outdoor space has the kind of seating that will make you successful in your endeavor.
-Punita Patel, Youth Educator
SLCL Installs Third Community Garden at the Grant’s View BranchSt. Louis County Library and Gateway Greening are pleased to announce the installation of the newest library garden on Saturday, May 14 at 8:30 a.m. at the Grant’s View Branch. This is the third community garden for the Library District–the Cliff Cave and Prairie Commons Branches also have gardens, but are both currently closed for construction. The Grant’s View Branch is located in South St. Louis County at 9700 Musick Road, directly across from Grant’s Farm.Garden volunteers will gather at the Grant’s View Branch on Saturday, May 14 at 8:30 a.m. to construct 24 4’x12′ raised beds and four easily accessible raised beds for individuals with disability issues. The garden area is already equipped with a waterline and a sidewalk; a tool shed will be added at a later date. Aetna is the corporate sponsor of the Grant’s View community garden.SLCL’s community garden program has been extremely popular. All 28 garden beds at the Grant’s View location have been reserved for the 2016 growing season, and a waiting list has begun for next year.Similar to the library’s other community gardens, the Grant’s View garden will offer programming and educational opportunities. Plans for an adjacent children’s garden are still in progress.SLCL’s partnership with Gateway Greening began in 2012, creating the first library community garden at the Prairie Commons Branch. The program was so successful, that a second garden was installed at the Cliff Cave Branch in 2013–with garden expansions taking place at both locations. The Grant’s View Community Garden is the third collaboration between Gateway Greening and SLCL. The project will be the largest garden installation ever undertaken by Gateway Greening.For more information about the Grant’s View Community Garden, please contact Jennifer McBride at 314-994-3300 ext. 2250.Photos are courtesy of St. Louis County Library.
The last few weeks of school are always full of a flurry of activities. School gardens are not an exception; we feel the squeeze as the students start to count down the days. There are so many i’s to dot and peas to pick and so little time to get in the summer vegetables and plant the sweet potatoes slips.
Are you feeling the same squeeze? Are you scratching your head trying to figure out how to fit it all in?
The answer may be different for everyone but for us at Mallinckrodt Academy, Shaw VPA, Gateway Elementary and Clay is that we make time for outdoor education and we stick with it against all odds, sort of how you would to lunch periods.
I wanted to share our week in the nutshell using pictures to convey all the ways we have used our school garden this past week or two.
It will be all over before you know it but while you are at it don’t forget to enter the Sweet Potato Competition and pick up your sweet potato slips. It makes for a great finale.
-Punita Patel, Youth Educator