|
|
|
MailTribune.com
  • GREEN-THUMB SCHOOLS

    School gardens: growing and learning

    Medford's Jackson Elementary School has become eco-friendly inside and out
  • It's surprisingly quiet during lunchtime at Jackson Elementary School's campus garden.
    • email print
    • Start a garden
      Rogue Valley Farm to School helps schools establish and sustain garden projects. Staff members and volunteers also lead educational activities. For more information, call 541-488-7884 or see www.rv...
      » Read more
      X
      Start a garden
      Rogue Valley Farm to School helps schools establish and sustain garden projects. Staff members and volunteers also lead educational activities. For more information, call 541-488-7884 or see www.rvfarm2school.org.

      The Oregon Department of Education has a school garden Web page (www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2647) with information on how to start a school garden, suggested curriculum, and links to resources.

      According to the state's education department, these Jackson and Josephine county schools have campus gardens:

      • Ashland: Ashland High School, Ashland Middle School and Bellview, Helman, John Muir and Walker elementary schools.
      • Central Point: Crater High School, Scenic Middle School, and Central Point and Sams Valley elementary schools.
      • Grants Pass: Grants Pass High School, Gladiola alternative school, and Allen Dale, Highland, Lincoln, Parkside, Redwood and Riverside elementary schools.
      • Medford: Central Medford High School, and Jackson, Oak Grove, Roosevelt and Washington elementary schools.
      • Rogue River: Rogue River Middle School
      • Three Rivers: Hidden Valley High, and Fruitdale and Madrona elementary schools.
  • It's surprisingly quiet during lunchtime at Jackson Elementary School's campus garden.
    Here, kids no taller than fully grown tomato plants are patiently waiting their turn to pick sun-ripened vegetables that are growing in planters adjacent to the playground.
    During hands-in-the-soil lessons about gardening, children also are learning about science, leadership and nurturing the planet, one carrot at a time.
    At this Medford school, which recently earned the top 2013 Oregon Sustainable School Award, the student garden is sown into the curriculum and is one part of an encompassing practice to live green.
    Some of the herbs and vegetables are used in after-school cooking classes and may soon be served with snacks and lunches.
    But the garden is about more than just filling tummies.
    On the days when the first- through sixth-graders taste and then vote for their favorite pulled-from-the-ground edible — today, the choices are lettuce leaves, radishes and onions — the older kids count the votes.
    As they studied in math class, they then create a chart ranking the produce's popularity — onions are in last place — and they hang the chart on the bulletin board for the whole school to see.
    On another board in the school's sunlit atrium is an art project, a flower made of construction paper. Written on the petals are younger children's science statements that plants need soil, sun and air to grow.
    In the center, a girl practicing language-arts skills has printed that she likes the "brocule" plant because it's "prete."
    "The garden enhances young people's learning and well-being," says Principal Kelly Soter, "and provides opportunities for participation and positive contributions to the school and community."
    The well-maintained campus garden is just one of the reasons Jackson Elementary was named the winner of this year's Sustainable School Award, which was open to Oregon's K-12 schools.
    The school was honored for practicing and teaching sustainability on a century-old campus that was rebuilt in 2009 and designed to be energy efficient.
    Inside, programmed skylights control the desired amount of natural light, and sensored lights, and computers automatically turn off when not in use. Other improvements reduce water use and the amount of disposable materials.
    Many of the school's purchases also impressed the Sustainable School Award judges. The cafeteria staff makes meals using as many locally grown ingredients as possible — all of the milk and bread come from Southern Oregon — and the maintenance crew uses cleaning supplies without harmful chemical compounds.
    Other schools have adapted eco-friendly practices, but here 99 percent of the children live within a mile of the campus, so they can walk, bike or carpool to school. This minimizes transportation's impact, says Soter, who adds that the school operates with only one bus.
    In and outside of classrooms, students study ways to be safe and healthy, which is part of the sustainability criteria. Kids can redeem credits they earn by exercising for prizes.
    Instructors and volunteers assist student-run recycling and litter-patrol programs, and promote other activities that help kids see that they can positively impact their community.
    The judges also acknowledged two Portland schools and one in Lake Oswego for either health or sustainability education programs.
    But Oregon Deputy Superintendent Rob Saxton and Sustainable Oregon Schools Initiative Executive Director Lori Stole praised Jackson Elementary for its across-the-board sustainability initiatives, from the environmentally friendly building to monthly parent-volunteer nights hosted by the Parent-Teacher Organization and Latino Parent Group.
Reader Reaction
      • calendar