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PLG Progress with Clarkdale Elementary School

Grantee: Clarkdale Elementary School – Austell, GA

Project Title:  Learning Garden

Grant Type: Project Learning Garden

The Clarkdale Elementary School garden in Cobb County was part of the Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden pilot year in 2012. With full support from Principal Marjorie Bickerstaff, the garden flourished, and all students participated in the Project Learning Garden lessons taught by a dedicated garden teacher hired through Title 1 funding.

Due to teacher and administrative changes, the garden went into remission for about a year but has since been revitalized thanks to the support of the school’s current principal, Liss A. Maynard. Maynard values the garden as a teaching tool, so much that she hired Kristi Curtright as the school’s STEM lab teacher and garden caretaker.

With the help of Curtright, FoodCorps, and community and parent volunteers, the garden was cleared of weeds back in September to prepare for fall planting. In October and November, every class from preK through 4th-grade got their hands dirty and planted a wide variety of fall crops, all while meeting Georgia State Standards. Radishes, carrots, broccoli, cabbage, and garlic are just a few of the crops planted by students. In addition to planting, students learned about different soil types, light energy, and simple machines, and in what better place to learn those things than in a garden?

The learning doesn’t stop in the garden, though! Students have taken the knowledge they’ve learned in the garden back into the classroom, as well as the produce they have grown. So far, the students have harvested radishes from the garden and cooked them several different ways to learn about heat energy, simple machines, and composting to reduce food waste. When the students return from winter break, they will have broccoli ready to harvest, and they’ll be learning about living vs. nonliving things, plant parts and needs, and suns and shadows.