The Garden View

  • Location
    Battle Creek, Michigan
  • Status
  • Age Level
    Any Age

The Problem

There are many benefits in developing and nurturing a school garden; not only does the experience develop important life skills, but gardening is linked to many common core standards. The Michigan State University Extension program has done extensive research around this topic. There are many resources and lessons that connect with the four core subjects (Math, ELA, Science and Social Studies). Our primary objective is to link in-class learning with hands-on, real-life experiences in a meaningful, goal-oriented way. Another objective is to connect not only our students with this garden, but our local community, too. A school/community effort involving our local neighborhoods in a positive, outdoor environment brings many good things to the lives of children and elders, by boosting pride in commitment, ownership, creating short and long range goals, and increased communication between all involved. Because we have a large Burmese community, we expect grandparents will be delighted to teach their grandchildren some of the traditional methods they used before coming to the United States. Of course, this is not limited to the Burmese population; we have many cultures sharing their school day and neighborhoods with us. This venture will support exchanges and learning across cultures. Sharing memories, language and cultural heritage is a bonus for all. Increasing valuable family time among parents/cousins/grandparents/foster parents and all the many ways our students are raised should be encouraged and promoted to build strong schools and children. As parents and caretakers see the school as a good place to be—so will their children. Being outside and participating in mild physical activity is something most adults and children can do; our garden will be easily accessed with nearby parking lots, sidewalks and raised gardens in a grassy area next to the school building. The nearby playground provides an additional place for kids to play. How can this help in ELA? Students who participate might write stories and illustrate their books with drawings from their summer of gardening. They can share with classmates or create a presentation for a Science Fair. They are more invested in learning how to spell foods and science terms as a result of their summer work. What about Math? Measuring, building, watering, weeding, harvesting, sharing: all of these are potential Math lessons. In Social Studies, teachers can connect student gardening experiences with early American farming methods; compare local produce with other parts of our country and help kids understand how much work it takes to feed others! In Science class, the learning connections are almost limitless: from climate changes affecting humans and water resources, to soil erosion, crop rotation, how seasons and latitude/longitude influence what people raise in gardens… just a few ideas of the many ways to bring ‘outside’ into the classroom. We expect improved nutritional habits as a result of raising vegetables within our school community. We look for an environmental impact too: teaching children how to use water and soil and resources responsibly, leading them to increased interest in Science class within their day to day learning. Any community is beautified by a garden that is well-tended. It garners positive attention! The following is a link to a research-based study of third and fourth graders in Denver, Colorado, who participated in a school garden project. The study found that student scores increased in Science; they showed improvement in healthy habits; and the project promoted a more nurturing environment. One important point from this study concerns acceptance: “Children who work in gardens are more likely to accept people different from themselves.” (Dyment & Bell, 2006). The social and emotional benefits and new skills from gardening can decrease negative student behavior and foster friendships that may not have had an opportunity to develop before. This opportunity for growth, renewal, learning, acceptance, participation and a feeling of community can be a benefit to so many in the Valley View community.

Our Plan

This project will be a joint effort between Valley View Staff/Students, families in the community, CIS and Operation Fit. The beginning of construction will be done mostly by Valley View staff and community volunteers which I will be overseeing and coordinating with Jan Ford. The CIS has offered funds to use toward a student field trip to Sprout Gardens where students will learn how to care for a garden. Operation fit has also offered to help us run the garden throughout the summer and offer assistance on what should be grown in the garden. This project can begin as soon as funds are available. We will be building raised beds and flat beds for our garden and a fence around it to keep out animals. We will be adding a flower garden after the vegetable garden completion. We need money for materials and toward hiring work done such as fencing and the building of beds. Other expenses would include dirt, fertilizer, cages, trellises, garden tools, hoses, mulch, signs, garden seeds and starter plants, etc.

Themes Addressed

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    Food Choices
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    Social-Emotional Learning
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The Benefit

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