Sue House, Madison High Academy of Science and Natural Resources,
Creating a School-Based Permaculture Garden that Provides Hands-On Educational Opportunities, Food for Students, and a Home for Wildlife
Category: Education: 2008
Most students in urban schools today have little or no connection with how their food is grown. When students are asked where their food comes from, most reply, "from the grocery store". Furthermore, they spend less and less time being physically active.
Ms. House and other Madison staff and community members propose developing an outdoor permaculture garden classroom to provide an experiential learning environment that balances the need for healthy, organic food for students with the need for a healthy habitat for wildlife. Permaculture refers to creating ecologically sound and economically sustainable human communities using a set of design principles. Students themselves will learn how to transform a grassy lawn into a healthy ecosystem that provides food for humans and wildlife. They will experiment with various sheet mulching techniques to create healthy soil for experimental plots, learn cob techniques, and build garden structures from locally available materials while utilizing rainwater catchment. Plants for the garden will be multi-use such as willow to provide fencing and trellis material, flowering plants to attract pollinators, and nitrogen-fixing trees and legumes to improve soil health. Ms. House envisions a garden that provides meaningful educational opportunities for students, while improving the biodiversity of the school grounds.
Eventually, the goal is to replace at least some of the nutritionally deficient cafeteria food with organic, sustainably grown food from the garden. In addition, students will make a deeper connection to the food they eat as they watch it go from seed to plate. The project could also benefit the broader community through sharing of underutilized crops. This low-tech educational project will balance human and wildlife needs with that of student learning.
This education grant is sponsored by Reeve Lindbergh.