May kicks off schoolyard garden planting
Schoolyard gardens present a cornucopia of opportunities all year long. There are indoor botany lessons, seed starting, and tasting the healthful fall harvest. But May brings excitement like no other—the anticipation of what’s to come.
May 22-26 was Schoolyard Gardens Planting Week in Minnesota, according to a proclamation by Governor Mark Dayton. The Minnesota Green Schools Coalition and U.S. Green Building Council-MN collaborated on the proclamation. Schoolyard garden projects that registered as part of planting week were supported by over 1500 students, teachers and community members. Over 150 Minnesota schoolyard gardens have been developed in recent years to allow for hands-on outdoor learning experiences that align with Minnesota PreK-12 academic standards.
Master Gardeners work at ground level
University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener volunteers serve as the local connection in the community and work with partners who make schoolyard gardens possible, such as nonprofits, government agencies, foundations, businesses, school and parent organizations. These all help start, fund, sustain, maintain and support schoolyard gardens throughout Minnesota.
Master Gardeners also provide schools with the know-how to effectively design, maintain and teach in a schoolyard garden. It’s a place to advance the quest to learn math, science, healthy living and more in an outdoor living laboratory.
Positive outcomes have increased the demand for Master Gardener volunteers, who are rigorously trained in horticulture by the University of Minnesota. The University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum recently hosted a schoolyard gardens conference for 300 volunteers, teachers, school administrators and others. Master Gardeners are working together to develop curriculum kits for volunteers.
Gifts help make it happen
Donations of plants, tools and funds help make it possible to give kids hands-on learning experiences in the garden. Funding for the garden pictured here (Crossroads School and Vocational Center in St. Francis) was provided by Lowe’s, Jeffer’s Foundation, Seed Money, Lone Wolf Nursery, University of Minnesota Monarch Lab, and private gifts from Extension Master Gardeners in Anoka County.
Are you interested in becoming a Master Gardener or making a gift to support schoolyard gardens?
For more information about schoolyard gardens from the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos by Lynne Hagen, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener program coordinator in Anoka County.