So over the past year and a half, Dr. Garner and I (along with several other Millersville University students and faculty) have reached out to students at Wheatland Middle School to work with them on a garden plot located in the Lancaster Community Garden. In this blog, I plan on outlining the experience we have had thus far, filled with both triumphs and not-so-triumphant moments, so that you can both be a part of the experience as well as pick up some tips in case gardening is something you are interested in your own school! Whew, that was a long sentence, but I promise this blog will keep you entertained with the anecdotes of the students we have collected along the way!
Today I want to talk a little bit about starting the process of gardening with school students. While the original goal last summer was to collect pre- and post-data from the students (referred by the school social worker) on their knowledge of gardening and their typical eating habits, we hit some road blocks on the first day. As I said, these students were referred to us, not self-motivated to come out with us two mornings a week in the summer to work in the dirt. Because of this, our original students jumped ship on the first day and left us with a few months to plan on how to gather more students.
This gathering process came in the form of Wheatland Middle School's summer Open House event. We set up a table and invited students to taste some food that was grown in our garden, and we snagged plenty of interest! From this cache of students, we were able to form a core gardening group and began to plan some winter gardening activities.
As the year progressed, Dr. Garner and her tribe of Millersville gardeners, including myself, would travel to Wheatland Middle School 2-3 times a week to meet with anywhere from 3-6 students and work on indoor gardening. We were lucky to acquire a light stand to garden indoors with, and that kept the students busy with watering and checking in on the progress of "their" plants (I'll write more on this later, but for background purposes I'll move ahead in the timeline).
Now that the students' summer program is in full-swing, we are meeting two mornings a week for one hour with around 3 students who are enthusiastic about weeding and hay-gathering for the garden!
Today's post turned out to be more of a background of our gardening vision, as I think that it is important for us all to be on the same page so I can start talking about our current group of kids and how the summer has been going.
Look for a new post tomorrow!