Fall is drawing to a close, but our schoolyard gardens are still a source of hands-on education and exploration! This fall's "Living Lab" curriculum teaches scientific concepts and engages students enrolled in the after-school garden clubs in basic experiments, using our gardens as an outdoor lab and classroom. So far we've learned about seed germination, capillary action, the water cycle, root storage, and more! In October and early November we harvested our last remaining vegetables from the gardens, incorporating them into healthy eating recipes with our after-school clubs.
Now we're in the process of bedding down the school gardens--located at eight schools throughout Somerville--for the winter. With the assistance of volunteers, parents, and Green Team members, we've sown winter rye, planted tulip and daffodil bulbs, and added cocoa hulls, straw, and cardboard for nutrient-rich mulch. We're also planning ahead for the spring, excited for garden renovations and a new planting season.
Schoolyard Gardens have been BOOMING! Starting in April, the seeds were planting by our Spring Garden Clubs, and they have not stopped all summer! We have seen some of the biggest zucchini and eggplant, and just now, hundreds of cherry tomatoes are ripening on the vine.
We are really excited to be getting this healthy local food to our students, as well as into the brand new, affordable, Mobile Farmers Market organized by the City of Somerville. In addition, our Green Team (see our other project) has been harvesting the gardens to help the Summer Camp at Healey School maintain these thriving urban oases.
The Gardens are at 8 locations throughout Somerville in every elementary school, including Edgerly, Argenziano, Kennedy, West Somerville, Winter Hill, Brown, Prospect Hill Academy and the future East Somerville Community School.
The Schoolyard Gardens Program unites school communities through the production of high quality organic local produce and participation in enriched nutrition, biology, ecology, agriculture, and economic education in Somerville. Through Schoolyard Gardens, Somerville Public School students have the opportunity to plant and harvest their own food. Groundwork then uses that experience as a catalyst to empower them to make decisions that positively affect their own health and the health of the environment. The Schoolyard Gardens curriculum, which complies with Massachusetts Education Standards, focuses on children in kindergarten through 8th grade and reaches over 400 students per year.
Also under the umbrella of Schoolyard Gardens are two garden related programs run outside the public school system. Groundwork oversees a Spring Break Camp at the Somerville Community Growing Center and Nature Workshops at three branches of the Somerville Public Library.
In 2011, Groundwork offered Schoolyard Gardens in 9 schools each season, and reached over 450 students. The program also provided opportunities for 26 weekly-committing volunteers to assist in seasonal school garden programming and many additional opportunities for one-time volunteers to engage.
When folks ask us how things are going in the school gardens, we answer, “Busy!”
Thank you for all of your support! Please spread the word about this amazing program and continue to support creating a more sustainable Somerville!
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