Lincoln-King Academy was thankful for the sunshine that highlighted the Planting Party on Friday, June 8th at their new Learning Garden. Big Green (biggreen.org), a non-profit dedicated to building a healthier future for America’s children, sent Jonathan Pavley, Garden Educator, to guide the planting of the first seeds in the newly installed garden. With more than 300 gardens in schools in Chicago and other cities, the Big Green team members are pros at installing and launching these programs.
Each Big Green Learning Garden installation includes lots of space for planting herbs and vegetables, seeds, plants and soil for the Planting Party, ample shaded seating, a salad spinner for the students to use when they are tasting the fruits of their labor, and a specialized curriculum. “Their curriculum crosses over into other subjects so the students are able to learn multiple things in the garden.” Principal Phillip Price said on the morning of the planting.
A group of accountants from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) assisted with the heavy lifting on June 8th. PwC sponsored the first set of raised garden boxes at Lincoln-King Academy last year. Glenda Stainback, an executive from PwC, is happy to increase their involvement with the garden now that Big Green is involved, “…we hope to return for the Harvest Day activities and help however we can with the garden throughout the year. Children gain so much when they help grow vegetables and learn to eat healthier.”
Students from each grade assisted with the planting throughout the day alongside Pavley and PwC volunteers. During the summer, students and their families will volunteer to water and care for the garden and as the harvest ripens they will be able to take fresh vegetables home as well. When school resumes in the fall, students will participate in the curriculum provided by Big Green such as “Garden Bites” and “Real Food Labs” which cover topics like food literacy, science, and math – all learned with hands-on components in the new Learning Garden. Garden Educators, like Jonathan, will visit the school a few times per year to facilitate these skills development workshops. “We offer lots of support to the schools because it’s a lot to ask of the school staff…” says Pavley. “My goal is, ultimately, to spread food literacy throughout the community.”
Ms. Maddick, the Spanish teacher at Lincoln-King, has made the school’s garden her pet project since last year. “Last year we only had five small garden beds. Now, with Big Green, we have twice the planting space, we have a ton of support, PwC is here volunteering, and this is a true Outdoor Classroom. We can sample the harvest and they are all so excited about it.” she shared. “The objective is to have an outdoor learning space and to teach them how to go from plant to plate. This space will enrich their school experience while it also helps the community because everyone will benefit from this garden.”
In the coming school year, all Cornerstone schools will feature a Big Green Learning Garden.
To volunteer in the Learning Garden at Lincoln-King Academy this summer, please call the main office: 313-862-2352.
See more photos below: