Jefferson County School Garden & Compost Program
Read about what’s been happening in the school gardens:
Two school gardens serve as outdoor classrooms, one at Grant Street Elementary in Port Townsend, Washington and the other at Quilcene K-12 School in Quilcene, Washington. Over 500 children currently participate in JCF2S school garden programs.
The Jefferson County School Garden and Compost Program began in the spring of 2009 when the Jefferson County Public Works Solid Waste Division received grant funding through the Washington State Dept. of Ecology for a two year pilot program. Due to the success and support of the program, both school gardens have grown to approximately 3,000 square feet, including fully equipped greenhouses. Quilcene’s school garden further expanded in the spring of 2011 to include a 1,500 square foot orchard.
The gardens are a wonderful environment for experiential learning. Students participate in all aspects of the garden cycle: from preparing garden beds and germinating seeds, to planting, watering, weeding, then finally harvesting and preparing healthy dishes with the garden bounty. Classroom teachers sign up for 30 minute garden class periods instructed by garden coordinators, Candice Cosler & Alex Moro. Garden class begins with a lesson relating to the activity of the day and then continues in the garden as students participate in hands on learning. This experiential model serves to deepen understanding of the lesson, and effectively reaches many students that may not excel in the traditional classroom setting. And the kids have lots of fun!
During every lesson students also get to eat their own garden-grown fruits and vegetables, a new experience for many.
Because of the diverse curriculum, we are able to continue garden class indoors even in the stormiest of days. Students learn about growing food, nutrition, cooking and safe food handling practices, composting, natural cycles, where our food comes from, attracting beneficial creatures to the garden, etc. On a windy day in March this may mean tending seedlings in the greenhouse, in June watering new squash plants, and in October pulling pumpkins off the vine.
In our garden classes, students work on projects both individually and in groups. We value group projects as a way for students to develop a sense of community amongst themselves as well as with parents, school staff and volunteers. At the same time, individual projects challenge students and offer the opportunity to excel in areas of their interest.
It is always a heartwarming moment when a child begs to pick fresh kale or discovers that they like a new healthy food. Nothing can compare to the thrill of seeing small faces beaming as they leave the garden munching on a nutritious treat they have grown.