One of the University of Chicago’s charter schools now has a new school garden! Science teacher Jeanne Mills, with help from CKP intern Cecilia Donnelly, has been working hard over the past few months to grow plants, clear grass, and bring in organic compost to the school’s courtyard. Pre-K to fifth graders have grown plants in their science classes and learned about squash, corn, cucumbers, beans, and many other varieties of edible plants. Last week, students and teachers completed the final clearing of the grass in the courtyard. Ms. Mills and a few others turned the soil, then covered the rows with heavy paper and the walkways with plastic in order to kill the weeds. Over the paper they created burms of organic compost and a few hills for the pumpkin patch!
Today, all the students came out to the garden, class by class, and planted different plants in their grade’s bed. They learned to separate plants by their roots and push them deep enough into the ground, but not too deep. Everyone had fun getting their hands (but hopefully not shoes!) a little dirty.
Donoghue’s project lines up perfectly with the CKP’s pushes for No Child Left Inside and No-Lawn Landscaping. School gardens are also a high priority in the Chicago Public School system’s new Environmental Action Plan. To aid CPS in this effort, the CKP created a Garden Manual to make South Side schools leaders in the Environmental Action Plan. The manual is a practical and philosophical guide, which helps schools not only with the actual physical planting of the garden, but also shares advice and thoughts about how the garden can be connected to the humanities side of education. ‘What kind of garden would Socrates want?’ is a question CKP interns asked of their Winning Words groups earlier in the year.
Look for more information on Donoghue’s garden and think about starting your own as the summer continues!