Grantee: Academe of the Oaks High School – Decatur, GA
Project Title: Edible Forest Garden at Academe of the Oaks High School
Identifying the Obstacles to Environmental Education: About a quarter of an acre wooded area adjacent to the school’s organic vegetable garden was overgrown with invasive plants including English ivy, poison ivy and green briar. This area was not just unsightly but dangerous.
Grant Description: With a grant from the Captain Planet Foundation, Academe of the Oaks was able to bring in a herd of goats and sheep (view the “Weed control with a cute face” video below) to clear the area of invasive species and brush. Students then worked countless hours digging out the roots of invasive species and preparing the ground to be planted. Students and teachers dug a space for a pond, filled it and lined it with rocks. The newly cleared site was filled with native shrubs, fruit, vegetable plants. Paths were created to meander through the space. Students are responsible for maintaining the garden and caring for the goats, chickens and bees. This care is integrated into the very fabric of the student body.
Program Impact: Projects to improve the gardens at Academe are project based and teams are made up of parents, students and faculty. The school has found this approach creates buy-in and commitment. The project based approach gives students a sense of ownership as well as a deep satisfaction upon completion of the project. This project was singular in the fact that the “before” and “after” is so dramatic. An eyesore became not only an outdoor nature laboratory for the students but a lovely space for the wider community.
Students are proud of the campus and what they have created. Garden workdays scheduled throughout the growing season and over the summer are popular volunteer opportunities for students and parents. A beautiful space makes maintaining it a pleasure.