Roots & Shoots students at Riverfield Country Day School (RCDS) in Tulsa, Oklahoma applied for a Whole Foods Grant for the 2014-15 school years. We received $2000 to implement sustainable practices in our vegetable garden. We already had several gardens on our campus, but our water sources were not convenient to all of our gardens. The High School students were also exploring Aquaponics and other gardening practices that use water and resources more efficiently. Finally, we wanted to start a garden near our Middle and Upper School buildings that could incorporate a “Seed to Table” experience for our older students. We already plant, harvest and cook with our Preschool and Primary students in an after-school Garden Enrichment Program. It seemed to be a next best step to have a garden near the Roots & Shoots classroom. All projects were student led and implemented with the support of RCDS teachers and community experts.
Rain barrels were placed near our “Lasagna Garden”, “Keyhole Garden”, and soon to be built greenhouse and compost area. Roots & Shoots students prepared the new garden space and participated in the process of attaching the rain barrels to our gutters. A composting program began in the primary classrooms and cafeteria. Kitchen waste was collected to create the layers that make up a lasagna garden. Roots & Shoots students layered the “greens and “browns” then added top soil. Our new garden space inspired several High School students to create their own sustainable garden on campus. A High School led greenhouse project and compost bins are now in the building phase. Additional rain barrels will collect rain near our pollinator gardens which incorporate native plants to attract bees and butterflies including the Monarch Butterflies that migrate through Oklahoma. Roots & Shoots students planted Lantana and Pentas around our established perennial plants. Now we have a sustainable garden on campus and we can use the rain barrel’s water collection system to keep our summer crops alive and ready for harvest next fall.