HOW DO SCHOOL GARDENS GROW?
By Claire Holley, Lake Oswego Review - Thursday, November 16, 2017
Elementary schools partner with parent volunteers and the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network to create gardening plots
Hallinan Elementary School students work in their school's garden last spring. Five of the six elementary schools in Lake Oswego now have gardens.
Thanks to the Lake Oswego Sustainability Network and a dedicated group of parent volunteers, many of the city's elementary schools are now equipped with gardens where students can grow fresh fruits and vegetables and learn about gardening and sustainability.
The next step, LOSN officials say, is developing a plan to incorporate the school gardens and sustainability into teachers' curriculum.
LOSN's mission is provide inspiration, resources and solutions to help Lake Oswego become more sustainable. The group is currently working with the city's Sustainability Advisory Board to create an official Climate Action Plan, for example, and is working with the Lake Oswego School District to incorporate sustainable features in upcoming bond projects.
One branch of the LOSN, the Education Action Team lead by Courtney Clements and Dorothy Atwood, focuses on working with local schools to incorporate sustainability into school facilities and curriculums. Clements and Atwood connect parents interested in sustainability issues in the district with the right resources and networking to get their project off the ground.
"I facilitate networking for parents who are interested in sustainability issues in our district," Clements explained. "We meet quarterly to discuss projects, seek and give advice, and share experiences."
In addition to the school gardens, topics covered at the quarterly meetings have included Green School certification, walk and bike events and recycling efforts. Superintendent Heather Beck has been among the attendees, as have School Board members and other district administrators.
The gardens, Atwood and Clements say, have been a particularly successful project. Five of the six elementary schools in Lake Oswego now have community gardens: River Grove, Oak Creek, Lake Grove, Forest Hills and Hallinan.
Most of the gardens were established due to work of proactive parent volunteers, the LOSN says. Forest Hills Elementary's community garden was established in 2013, although it was not a quick process.
"The idea was pitched in 2009 by two parents," said Forest Hills parent and garden volunteer Heidi Schrimsher. "It took about four years to get approval."
The parents worked with Growing Gardens — a nonprofit dedicated to teaching gardening skills and educating people about growing vegetables in schools and other community gardens — as well as the LOSN to make their garden dream a reality, Schrimsher said.
Hallinan Elementary has had a garden since 2010, when it was established as part of a collaboration between the school and its surrounding community. Since then, the garden has grown and now includes 24 4-foot-by-8-foot raised beds, four composting bins, a security surveillance system and a deer-deterrent enclosure made from junipers and wire mesh.
In September, Hallinan students harvested their fall crops, which yielded 139 pounds of organic produce that was donated to the Tualatin School House Pantry, Hallinan Garden Coordinator Jennifer Daniello said.
Daniello, who has a second-grader at Hallinan, said she is working with other core parent groups of volunteers to change the format of how the garden runs. "In the past, the parents have decided what gets planted, and when it gets planted and harvested," she said. "We're hoping to change the format, so the kids are more involved in the planning and the planting of the garden."
Daniello said she and other parent volunteers and teachers are working with the district's TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) to connect Hallinan's garden to it's STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) curriculum.
The LOSN is also developing ways to integrate the gardens into the STEM curriculum districtwide. Later this month, Atwood and Stephanie Wagner have scheduled a session called "Connecting Gardens to the Elementary STEM Curriculum — Maximizing the Educational Benefit of Gardens" as part of the school district's professional development program, with the goal of making "teachers aware of garden activities districtwide and how they align with current curriculum requirements," according to the LOSN.
Daniello believes there should be a push to implement community gardens districtwide. She sees gardening as an essential skill that all students should learn.
"It really teaches them about growing things," she said. "It's great for them to have the opportunity to plant something, grow it, nurture it and watch it come to fruition.
"The kids absolutely love getting out there," Daniello continued. "And the amount of efforts that parents are putting into teaching their kids something so simple is incredible."
Contact Lake Oswego Review reporter Claire Holley at 503-636-1281 ext. 109 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reprinted with permission of the Lake Oswego Review - Copyright 2017
Beyond Green Building 2.0
Paul Schwer, president of PAE Consulting Engineers, gave an updated version of his “Beyond Green Building” presentation to over 60 people at Lakeridge Jr. High on October 5. The audience included city councilors, school board members, planning commission and bond accountability committee members, who will be involved in overseeing the development of a new junior high school and city civic center. Paul’s message was that it is in our best interest both financially and climate-wise to move toward making these facilities net zero energy ready, buildings that with the addition of solar panels can generate as much electricity as they use.
Calendar of Current events
What: LOSN Celebration Event
When: Thursday, January 25, 2018
Time: 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM
Where: Fellowship Room, Lake Oswego United Methodist Church, 1855 South Shore Blvd, Lake Oswego, OR 97034
Purpose: Celebrate 2017 community and city sustainability achievements