I spent a beautiful, sunny morning visiting with students in their school garden at Alice Smith Elementary School. Assistant Principal Jackie Maloney hosted me as we toured their Garden Classroom. We were joined by Urban Roots staff and board members to highlight the successful work being done at Alice Smith ES.
The garden had fruit trees, herbs, and vegetables. There were also flowering shrubs. The students were weeding and watering the plants in their garden. Every single student was busy and focused. I saw students looking at the plants and talking about the growth. They were also diligent to make sure they were pulling weeds and not vegetables that they had planted. I noticed how serene the setting was even with the flurry of activity taking place.
It was a delight to talk to the students about their garden. Many told me that they had not gardened previously but that they had grandparents that had gardens. They also talked about the health benefits of eating the vegetables they were growing. The students and I sampled some of the herbs and some spicy radishes. Several students had never tasted a radish and were surprised by how it tasted.
AP Maloney discussed how teachers effectively use the school garden for STEM curriculum. She also shared information about the garden clean-up day event that brings students, parents, and staff together to prepare the garden for planting and growing. Alice Smith ES also benefits from a mentoring program with the Center for Agricultural Science and Engineering program at North Valleys High School. High school students and teachers with the NVHS program provide support for the school and students in their school garden.
Speaking of partnerships, Alice Smith ES’s Garden Classroom is a program sponsored by Urban Roots. Urban Roots supports building and maintaining the school garden and provides an Urban Roots educator at the school once a week throughout the school year. The educator conducts teacher training so that they can learn how to incorporate gardening into their curriculum.
WCSD has many schools that have enjoyed the benefits of a Garden Classroom. This program helps students increase academic achievement by learning about healthy eating and environmental stewardship. And, the students have fun playing a role in growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Many thanks to the students and staff at Alice Smith ES for hosting me as well as the Urban Roots staff and board members that joined me at the school.