Fall 2019 in Seward, Barton and Northrop Gardens

 In mid-September, I walked out to the garden at Seward Montessori School with about 30 first, second, and third graders following me. We stopped before entering and remembered our job that day: to observe and draw pollinators, to explore and draw the soil. For the next 30 minutes, I saw students with their hands in the dirt, heard cries of “I found a worm!” and “Look, a bee!”. There were a few students so excited by the variety of plants in the garden that they simply walked up and down the paths finding strawberries, tomatoes, and other vegetables they recognized.

The next week, when I came to visit this class and told them we were headed to the garden, a cheer erupted. Again, we stopped and reviewed the plan: to find and draw the leaves, roots, and seedholders in the garden that we could eat. Again, I saw fascination and hard work and heard a few screams: “It’s a spider!” When the students found out I had brought a Minnesota watermelon for tasting, they had trouble waiting for me to finish cutting it up.  I told them the story of how it had grown, how it had been planted from a seed that looked just like the seeds they spit out when they eat watermelon and when It first started to grow on the plant, it looked like it would only be a flower. 

At Seward Montessori, and in many Minneapolis Public Schools, there are big compost bins where students throw their food scraps, napkins, and even paper towels in the bathroom. For our final visit to the garden in that chilly second week of October, our job would be to learn about compost. Each student had the chance to pretend they were one of the ingredients in a compost bin (a green or brown compostable, a decomposer, or a bacteria). Together, they decomposed (and laughed and wiggled on the ground). Students also explored what was left to eat in the garden (KALE!), made a salad to taste, and added browning plants to the outside compost pile. 

Alongside with Seward Montessori Garden, Midwest Food Connection Educators also taught in school gardens at Barton Open School and Northrop Elementary School this Fall. Because gardens are varies, so were the experiences in those gardens, but the excitement and curiosity in the children at these schools was largely the same. In all, MFC brought 550 students out to their gardens with a total of 58 lessons at all three schools. Now we’re looking forward to Spring when we can be back out there again. While we wait, we’ll teach our units “Climate Conscious Cuisine” and “Gifts From Many Cultures”.

Garden visits and lessons were supported by the Hennepin County Green Partners environmental education program. For more information, visit: www.hennepin.us/greenpartners