The West Virginia K-12 Science Listserv recently posted a request from an elementary school technology integration specialist, who asked,
I am looking to start a school garden at my elementary school in Wood County. If anyone has any tips, links, resources, etc. you can point me toward I would be most grateful. Thank you!
I thought this information would be valuable for many elementary educators who may be dreaming about the coming of spring over the winter break. Here are web resources to get you started on your school garden project.
School Garden Wizard? http://www.schoolgardenwizard.org/wizard/
The Edible Schoolyard Project: http://edibleschoolyard.org/
I highly recommend that you contact your local state or county Cooperative Extension Office. Here is how you can find your closest extension service representative: http://www.csrees.usda.gov/Extension/
The resources clustered below suggest developing partnerships with different groups, tips on maintaining gardens when school is not in session, and other shared thoughts from individuals and groups that have gardens ongoing for a number of years.
The set of resources specifically target West Virginia connections for school gardening.
Elementary School Garden Programs Enhance Science Education for All Learners--a WVU Community Design Publication, available for free download at: http://communitydesign.wvu.edu/r/download/166593
WV Extension Service Master Gardeners Project: http://mastergardeners.ext.wvu.edu/
Growing Sustainable Schools in the Mountain State: http://communitydesign.wvu.edu/our_work/growing-sustainable-schools-wv
Try This West Virginia is an interesting website that is geared to provide building blocks for healthy change specifically for West Virginia, which is currently near the top of many chronic disease lists. Starting school gardens is one way to redirect children and adults toward healthier life style choices. Try This WV offers a collection of some better choices at: http://trythiswv.com/
Additional resources for educators interested in starting school gardens are also recommended by James Rye (Jim.Rye@mail.wvu.edu), a master gardener and professor in the College of Education and Human Services, helped establish gardens at North Elementary (Morgantown, WV) as part of a grant from the Lowes Charitable and Educational Foundation. The gardens, dubbed ‘Panther Pride Gardens’ by students, provide fresh produce for the school cafeteria. – [See more at: http://wvutoday.wvu.edu/n/2013/10/31/wvu-professor-s-gardening-initiative-recognized-by-first-lady-michelle-obama#sthash.Mh0IOGpa.dpuf]
Here’s how to access a fantastic text that Jim Rye used to guide the development of the program at North Elementary School: How to grow a school garden (published by Timber Press) http://www.timberpress.com/books/how_grow_school_garden/bucklin-sporer/9781604690002
The growing classroom--garden and nutrition activity guide is also an excellent compendium of lessons grades 2-6 and includes an update of linkages of lessons to the new Next Generation Science Standards http://www.lifelab.org/store/curriculum/ You may also want to get Math in the garden (published by the National Gardening Association http://www.gardeningwithkids.org/math-in-the-garden.html
A couple other good links are: Gardening With Kids http://www.gardeningwithkids.org/index.html
School gardening easily connects with garden-based learning inside our classrooms too, including activities like vermicomposting. The North Elementary garden program is also fortunate this year to have Vanessa Onkow, Americorps Volunteer, who works at North this year and brings a wealth of experience in farm to school and sustainability. If you get to the Morgantown area, Vanessa or I would be happy to show you aspects of our program.
See the results of Jim Rye’s partnership with the North Elementary School garden (Morgantown, WV), and how it led them to a visit to the White House this past Nov (2013): http://ee.dominionpost.com/Repository/ml.asp?Ref=RFBvc3QvMjAxMy8xMS8wMyNBcjAwMTA1&Mode=Gif&Locale=english-skin-custom
I hope your school garden also takes you and your students to new learning heights.