Each time our Schoolyard Gardens staff goes to one of our 200+ schools, we hear the unique story of that school’s garden. Schools utilize their gardens in many different ways, and students interact with their school gardens in different ways. Many schools use the garden as a tool for classroom learning, or to simply grow food to harvest and taste in their classrooms. For others, the garden is an extracurricular club, where both students and teachers commit time after school to work in the garden.
In its third year, the James Walker Elementary (Blue Springs Public Schools) Garden Club is one of the most popular extracurricular activities in the school. First grade teachers Lindsey Solon and Heather Brown oversee the club, which accepts students in 3rd – 5th grade. The club meets weekly from September through May. Beyond tending to the garden, the students also research what they would like to plant, and find their favorite recipes to share with the club. At the end of the first two years, KCCG staff member and chef Sharon Goldstein presented a cooking workshop for the students, which has been a highlight for the students and the teachers both years.
This year, student interest was so high in the club that Ms. Solon and Mrs. Brown required all students that were interested in joining the club to submit an essay on why they wanted to join garden club—the teachers received 70 essays for just 20 spots in the garden club! Allowing students to opt-in to gardening creates an opportunity for the students to share what the garden means to them. The essays show the excitement and knowledge that school gardens bring to students!