Commentary: School gardens help raise healthy children | Chanhassen Opinion
The snow has melted, the birds are singing, the sun is shining – now is the time to think about planting summer gardens!
But many of us may not have had the chance to cultivate a garden when we were kids – or we may not have the garden space or the ‘know-how’ to even begin to grow. plan.
Master gardeners at the Carver-Scott Extension are available to help young people in our communities embark on this very important path to better health, a better environment and improved sustainability – and to inspire them to continue gardening there. ‘to come up!
Master Gardeners at the Carver-Scott Extension have helped more than 20 public and private schools start and maintain school gardens on their sites in recent years, with student ages ranging from preschool to high school.
Through the implementation of these gardens, students learn the importance of environmental stewardship, community and social development, a healthy lifestyle, and practical academic success. From planning stages to implementation, ongoing maintenance and problem solving, harvesting and fall cleanup, Master Gardeners can help you develop this program in your school.
The school gardening program received an excellent response from participating schools, with rave reviews from teachers, school administrators, parents and students.
Grade 7-8 science teacher Tara Orstad has been instrumental in creating the school garden at Shakopee West Middle School for the past three years; she was delighted with the students’ response to the program and the new educational opportunities offered by the garden.
“The time and energy spent in the garden pays off ten times more for the pupils by encouraging them to get their hands dirty and to look at the earth in a new way!”
Their school established seven raised beds and three buried perennial / pollinator gardens, and was able to set them up mainly through local grants, donations and “equity” at very little cost to the district.
The school garden at La Academia Spanish Immersion School, a K-5 school located in Chaska, is now in its fourth year; their garden was established in an area completely overgrown with weeds.
With the help of parents and school maintenance staff, the area was cleared and seven flowerbeds were established, with financial assistance from local grants and donations of plants and seeds. local businesses and seed companies.
“The school garden gives students of all age groups a hands-on experience of where their food comes from, planting the seeds in the spring, watching them grow in the summer and harvesting in the fall.” said Kari Crane, volunteer parent / school garden coordinator.
Student families take turns watering and maintaining the garden during the summer months; families are excited to share this experience with their students. Throughout the summer, there is often a surplus of produce that the school donates to a local food shelf.
With the budgeting for the upcoming 2021-2022 school season, now is the time to consider implementing this program in your school. Carver-Scott Extension Master Gardener volunteers can help your school through the following steps to start your program:
- Consult with school administrators and staff about creating a school garden.
- Advise on funding resources, such as grants and financial resources to help defray costs.
- Advise on the choice of a garden site, design, tools, soil analyzes.
- Provide ideas for horticulture programs.
- Teach gardening to staff and students.
- Attend the school garden planting day.
- Guide students through horticultural activities.
As noted at both Shakopee West Middle School and La Academia Spanish Immersion School, materials and plants can often be donated and additional grants may be available through the Improvement Program of statewide (SHIP) or countywide health care to minimize these costs.
The school garden also offers many opportunities for parents, teachers and other volunteers to get involved in gardening activities, which helps to strengthen bonds and commitment within the community.
If you are interested in the possibility of creating a school garden at your child’s school, the Master Gardeners at the Carver-Scott Extension would love to help! We would love to answer your questions about the upfront cost and commitment, the planning process, and building support within your school and community.
For questions and help getting started, please contact: Kristy Mock, Master Gardeners Program Coordinator, at [email protected] or 952-466-5309.
Plus, Carver-Scott Extension Master Gardeners are available to help you with any other gardening questions you may have. We offer free classes through the Carver County Library, Carver County Fairgrounds and Scott County Fairgrounds, as well as maintenance of teaching gardens.
Have a good spring and good gardening!
Cindee Axness is a Master Gardener with the Carver-Scott Extension.