The Captain Planet Foundation’s Learning Garden Program’s success is due in large part to committed partners who share our desire to help teachers take their classrooms to the garden for instructional time. When The Nature Conservancy (TNC) approached us to pilot a middle school garden program in Atlanta area middle schools, we knew it would be a great match.
This pilot joins TNC’s Nature Works Everywhere curriculum with the Learning Garden Program’s tried-and-true amenities of garden installation, standards-based lessons, lesson supplies, professional development, mobile cooking cart and summer garden maintenance. The result is a robust middle school program that uses garden-based interdisciplinary curriculum aligned with national standards to bring home important lessons about natural systems, conservation, and personal health.
This partnership is off to a great start after a garden installation workday at Arabia Mountain High School in DeKalb County, GA on April 4, 2014. This unique school offers the only urban agricultural education program in Metro Atlanta and also hosts TNC’s Leaders for Environmental Action for the Future (LEAF) program.
Students from both the agriculture program and LEAF joined forces with volunteers and staff from CSX Corporation, TNC and CPF to install 4 new ‘keyhole’ beds, an herb spiral, a 12×12 in-ground garden, and to restore 6 existing garden beds in preparation for spring planting.
At the end of the workday, students were able to transplant the tomatoes and peppers they grew from seed in their greenhouse to their brand new garden space!
So why is this middle school pilot kicking off at a high school? The pilot focuses on feeder middle schools to Arabia Mountain High so that even more students will be interested in the high school agriculture program, LEAF program, and Arabia students will in turn serve as mentors to middle school gardeners. As a final bonus, the Arabia Mountain greenhouse will be able to supply seedlings to the middle school counterparts.
CPF and TNC will announce the 10 selected middle school applicants to the Nature Works Everywhere Gardens Program in early May, 2014.