Greenest Classroom Winner Update
Editor’s Note: Last summer through our “Greenest Classroom” contest, schools across the country submitted their best earth-friendly classroom ideas for a chance to win a grant to help turn their ideas into reality. Today’s post comes from the coordinator of the grand-prize winner, River Place Elementary Titan Gardens. Read below to see all of the inspiring projects they’ve been able to accomplish!
What a year we have had in the Titan Garden at River Place Elementary! Since winning the Greenest Classroom Award from MOM Brands last year, we have been building and growing and learning. Soon after hearing the amazing news of our award from MOM Brands, the action began with the July 2011 construction of our Outdoor Classroom, the centerpiece to our school garden. The classroom is the first place the students gather when they come outside and it acts as a grounding place for them before they scatter in all directions to observe and interact in the garden. The students love to gather on their stump seats made from reclaimed cedar trees, and they are surrounded by reminders of the importance of our environment: solar panels on the roof, rainwater harvesting barrels in the back, and a wildflower meadow in front.
On October 15th, 2011, over 160 members of our community, from 5 years old to 75 years old, gathered to build our new garden area. Seeing all of these people gathered to bring to life the vision we had laid out for our school garden was an amazing thing. We spent the next 7 hours transforming what was an empty field into a garden that would offer areas for food crops, herb growing, and showcasing native and adapted plants.
Starting in the fall, our first classes began weekly visits to the garden. They helped plant new areas of the garden with native plants and put in our fall vegetables. Things picked up in late fall as the entire school came out for our Annual Titan Wildflower Stomp, which we are now enjoying the results of as we are inundated with gorgeous native wildflowers including a great crop of Texas Bluebonnets. As the school year progressed, more and more classes were using the garden, whether for a weekly visit for garden class, an outdoor activity to expand on a science lesson, a trip outside in art class to draw flowers, or some quiet time for reading.
And the students have given back to our garden. Kindergarten maintains a worm composting bin by gathering food weekly for worm feeding which we can then harvest worm castings from to add to our garden soil. First graders built two fantastic compost bins where we recycle grass and leaves. We have joyfully used our rainwater to water our vegetables and cheered when we see it raining through the classroom windows because we know our barrels are filling up again. We have held radish tastings and had Celebration Salad Days for over 200 students where we harvest lettuce, snow peas, radishes, carrots and herbs and have a salad feast to celebrate the harvest.
But sometimes it is the simple activities that make the biggest impact: students examining plants with magnifying lenses to find each stage of the ladybug lifecycle, children spread all over the garden picking out weeds from the pathways to help keep our garden beautiful, learning how a snapdragon flower got its name, hearing the shouts of joy as the students discover that the marigold seeds they planted last week are sprouting. ”I did that!” they say with pride and happiness. I know exactly how they feel when I look around our Titan Garden at what we have accomplished, with help from so many parents and community volunteers and companies who have helped us along the way. Thank you MOM Brands for helping light such an amazing spark to get our project going.
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