Please describe your garden, is it raised beds, in the ground, do you have a greenhouse?
Our project began with the students who were a part of the Outdoor Learning Advisory Council Jr. or OLAC Jr. as we call it. They wanted to leave their mark in a positive way on West Meadow before moving on to the High School to begin grade 7. We had to coordinate with the administration and maintenance to determine a logical and safe place to plant our Raspberry patch. We decided on a raspberry patch because raspberries grow well in our area (windy, dry, and just generally brutal), plus who doesn't love a fresh raspberry? After we scouted a location, it was a race to dig the pits and get the berries planted before school was out for the summer. In the end, we were able to dig out two 10 ft by 3 ft areas, that we then filled with planting soil, and planted our 30 raspberry shoots. The kids loved digging, and we even attracted more students than we originally had planned for. I'm going to have to weed it and determine our best move to protect and prepare them for the winter, but overall, they did produce some very tasty berries. The students were thrilled and I'm excited to see the growth in future years. Students are getting to see first hand the incredible functionality of plants. Raspberries are just the start of what we hope to turn into a whole fruit garden. During the planning and planting phases, students had the opportunity to work with adults in the community to make the best and more successful plan. They chose dirt and worked hard to churn the different elements of the soil together. They works in pairs to haul dirt and shovel the patch, we were muddy but we had fun! Next year, we hope to harvest the berries to make jam.
What are your future plans for the school garden?
We are going to continue looking at planting different plants. This year we plan to add willows and lilacs on the west side of our school, as it is incredibly windy over there. In future years, we hope to create a whole fruit garden with trees and bushes. We are also looking into bringing in some plants to help increase the amount of smaller wildlife we see around our school, including bee homes, bat homes, and bird feeders. Lastly, the addition of a natural water source would complete our schools vision.
Any words of encouragement/tips for a school starting a school garden?
Thank you for support on this project! It was a long year of working with lots of people to make this happen, and having the raspberries in the ground is a great first step in our journey to increasing outdoor learning at West Meadow Elementary.
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