Are you interested in integrating an internationally-themed garden at your site? Here is some information about gardens from specific countries to get you started.
Here are some lesson ideas to teach the theme of International Gardening.
School gardening is a worldwide phenomenon. Learning from others internationally who have taken on the responsibility to educate youth through a hands-on gardening program may be a rare opportunity. You will find that school gardeners around the world face some similar challenges to those we face here in America, although some are quite different. One thing we have in common is the desire to give students a unique experience to learn with their hands through a quality education. It is inspiring to learn what educators will do in the face of a challenge and the creative ideas used to meet the needs of students.
Take a look at these organizations for a fresh perspective on ways to integrate gardening programs into your location and get parents involved. Your students may be interested to hear how students across the world are involved with gardening activities too. There is much to be learned from our fellow school gardeners across the globe. Perhaps there is even room for international collaboration and support within our school gardening connection.
The Royal Horticultural Society in England sponsors an annual event titled “Get Your Grown-Ups Growing.” This program is designed to encourage parents to volunteer at the school gardens. Each October participating schools plan the event and send out informational fliers to the parents/caregivers of all the students. One site has used this opportunity to allow parents to plant winter crops and will then let the parents share in the harvest. Not only does this get kids and parents gardening together but it encourages healthy eating as well. Another site has used this day for a friendly scarecrow making competition along with regular gardening tasks. This event allows students to teach adults as youth take part in the planning and delegation of jobs to be done. Giving youth a leadership role will result in more commitment from them in the future. http://apps.rhs.org.uk/schoolgardening/teachershome/getyourgrown-upsgrowing/default.aspa
Growing Chefs! Ontario is a program in London aimed at getting kids excited about wholesome, healthy food. Through the efforts of this organization, local professional chefs share their skills and passion for healthy and local foods with children. Lessons taught through this program are based on elementary curriculum giving Growing Chefs! the approval of school principals and the London board of education. One activity taught with third grade classes is plant parts. Growing Chefs! teaches this lesson using vegetables (ex: asparagus-stem, carrots-root, lettuce-leaves.) At the end of class the chefs prepare a healthy snack for the students using the vegetables.
Students are given the opportunity to plant and care for lettuce, bean, pea, and beet seeds in pots and seedling flats. Using these containers allows the gardens to stay right in the classroom so the students see them every day as they grow. Children are more open to eating healthy foods if they have helped grow them.
Growing Chefs! states the most unexpected impact their program has had is on the chef volunteers. Year after year, the same chefs return to volunteer because they love working with the kids. They feel that the program gives them an opportunity to make an impact on the kids they wouldn't have had otherwise. Some of the chefs have said they look at the products they use differently. Some have said they are bringing healthy meal options - especially for kids - to their restaurants.
Growing Chefs! believes that to make your community healthier, we need to change the way we teach our children about food. http://www.growingchefsontario.ca/
In Lebanon a gardening program was established with the initial objective of reducing vandalism in a park area by teaching children to respect the land. An additional hope was to encourage residents to garden together and consequently learn about each other. From its inception in 1999 until March of 2010, this program was run by one woman, Zahra Wahid. Now accompanied by an assistant, the two women lead groups of students from the age of six to 75 through garden explorations. When students enter the garden Wahid teaches them to listen to how nature tells them good morning. She explains that nature has its own way of greeting you in what they call “la balade sensorielle” (the censorial ballad). She encourages her students to close their eyes, hold onto a rope, and Wahid guides them through the gardens where they can touch and smell the plants and listen to nature’s “good morning”. Other activities Wahid leads in the garden include educating students about the history of the park where the garden is located which dates back to the 16th century. She leads bird watching excursions of the 70 species found within the park. Students use their creativity to paint with nature. Provided only with paper as a canvas, students use soil, flowers, and other natural media to design a masterpiece. Wahid describes the gardening activities as the story of Sleeping Beauty and her prince with the seeds students plant being “awakened” by the touch of the water. Students are able to bring home their plants as a gift from the garden. This insightful program is not without challenges. Wahid is constantly struggling with the lack of materials for the garden programs. No irrigation, water collection buckets, maintenance assistance, security, and restrooms are among other challenges facing this program. Donations have come through for this program to provide seeds and a school helped construct a bathroom facility for garden visitors. The issue of water availability continues to be a struggle that Wahid faces on a regular basis.
In The Dutch School Garden Project of Amsterdam students aged nine and ten (6th and 7th grade in The Netherlands) have the option of participating in a year-long garden program called “schooltuin”. Ninety-five percent of the students participate in this program and garden one morning per week. Each student has their own garden space that is approximately one to two yards square where they can choose to grow vegetables or flowers. Students are allowed to take home what they grow in their garden. Some of the common vegetables grown in these gardens include zucchini, lettuce, tomatoes, and beans. The gardening program begins in early spring. During the six-week summer break, volunteers maintain the gardens until students return and pick right back up with their gardening. This program began because most of the children had no gardening experience and it has become a very popular addition to the school programming. Through the hands-on process of growing a garden combined with classroom instruction, students learn about seeds, soil, weather, critters and more.
Evergreen is a non-profit organization in Canada that aims to encourage school gardening programs. They work with approximately 20 consultants throughout Canada who provide training to educators who are planning and maintaining school gardens. One training provided by consultants is titled, “The Outdoor Classroom Institute.” This is a three-day summer program for elementary school teachers to provide information about obtaining grants and using an outdoor classroom for instruction. Evergreen also provides resources to educators who are beginning a school ground greening project or food garden. http://www.evergreen.ca/en/resources/schools/
Shoots with Roots is a Canadian program hosted at Milner Gardens and Woodland. This program began in 2003 modeled after Roots and Shoots Intergenerational Gardening Program of Elizabeth Gamble Gardens in Palo Alto, California. (http://www.gamblegarden.org/childrens/rootsShoots.html.) Students who participate in this program learn about forest safety, etiquette, and research techniques of the local flora and fauna. An “Artist’s Garden” is used to teach students about pollinators, art and social history. Students are responsible for the Children’s Food Garden from preparation to harvest. During the school year there are 14 classes from kindergarten to seventh grade who visit the gardens five times; two visits in the fall and three in the spring. This program is offered free to the schools, although donations are welcomed. While some of classes who visit the gardens are local, some travel almost an hour to benefit from these learning opportunities. In addition to serving public schools, this program is offered to private schools, special needs groups, and home schools. From the support of grants and donations, the school program is offered two days per week by one staff member and numerous volunteers. Programming is available when school is out of session and during after-school hours as well. Youth who were once participants of the Shoots with Roots program often return to serve as junior leaders. To reach out to the community, Shoots with Roots visits schools and community events with a free newspaper pot-making and planting activity. They have also begun a partnership with the local farmer’s market and offer monthly educational activities for families. Shoots with Roots has embraced their community and now educates approximately 2000 individuals each year. http://www.viu.ca/milnergardens/shoots-with-roots/SwRProgram.asp
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