By Andrea Locke, Community Relations Coordinator
Nearly everyone at CitySprouts recently went to the Massachusetts Horticultural Society’s School Garden Conference: Beyond Education on February 23rd. In its third year, the conference featured workshops that explored regional best practices for planning and running a school garden.
The all-day conference started with a Keynote Address by our very own Executive Director, Jane Hirschi. She spoke about the impact of school gardens over grades, subjects, and time. Many in the room were surprised to learn about The United States School Garden Army that was created in 1917 by the War Department as a way to encourage gardening among school children. Several million children enlisted as “Soldiers of the Soil.” Can we bring this back in 2017?
Afterward we split up to attend numerous workshops. I personally started with a great session on creating a school garden community with Melissa Pace. I hope to bring some of these new ideas to our school garden communities this coming year. We are always brainstorming ways to guide a school community to feeling ownership over their garden space.
I went to a session by CitySprouts Garden Coordinators Shay Chess and Jack Leng. To a very engaged crowd they delved into the CitySprouts model and how to use a garden across numerous subjects. Shay also shared a wonderful collaboration between the art, science, and library teachers in designing a bug hotel in the garden. Through the cross collaboration, the students learned about habitats, research, and artist Andy Goldsworthy.
In the afternoon some of us learned about sustainability and social justice applications in a school garden, while others took a composting class. Overall, it was a great day of learning and team bonding for CitySprouts. If we missed you at Mass Hort, we hope to see you at these upcoming conferences: