Fourth Grade teacher Adrianne Blackwelder wrote an N-CCS Innovative Grant in the fall of 2014 to cultivate learning at Shuford Elementary School. Since receiving the funds for a school garden, students at Shuford have had many hands-on and meaningful experiences on their very own soil.
To get started, students designed a survey to gather information from teachers across grade levels about how their students could be involved with planting and maintaining a school garden. Fourth graders researched Common Core standards and found ties with specific grade levels and needs that the school had for a garden. After assessing the soil, students determined more specifically the needs for their grant order and proceeded with the purchase of garden supplies. Some money was set aside for later use for needs that may arise as spring approaches. After doing needed research, having discussions, and using the teacher surveys, the Shuford students determined which grade levels would plant which vegetables. They decided that with certain grade levels becoming the experts on their crops, more opportunities for research and ties across the curriculum would occur during growing and planting seasons. To reinforce the students’ studies, Mrs. Blackwelder had a horticulture expert visit the school from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools to engage students’ interests and talk about the benefits of a garden. She also discussed growing seasons, supply and demand, and plants’ needs.
As the garden develops, third and fourth graders are growing potatoes that will be set out in the coming weeks. First and second graders are growing cabbage plants, and second graders are also tying weather studies into the garden care by creating rain gauges and weather vanes. In the near future, third grade ESL classes will be planting broccoli, and students in technology classes will work to research and plant onions.
As an extra bonus, fourth grade students have decided that the middle of the garden would be a nice place for a flower garden. Students are bringing in and planting their own flowers in the garden, and with the remaining grant money, they’ve also purchased a bird feeder for the garden. Shuford students are getting excited about the warm weather and the hands-on experiences that they will receive in their school garden. As Mrs. Blackwelder continues to create such a well-planned, and carefully tended school-wide project, the students will surely grow in their knowledge and appreciation for seed to feed initiatives!