We believe that children make sense of the world by interacting with it and that gardens have the unique capacity to engage the mental and physical strengths of each and every child. In an outdoor classroom, individuals’ strengths can emerge which, otherwise, may not have been witnessed. For students who are dominantly kinesthetic learners, garden-based lessons can be both motivating and calming.
Oftentimes, students who may struggle in a typical academic classroom shine in environmental education settings. Many teachers have observed that the “behavior problems” can melt away during garden-based learning as children are so actively engaged in their meaningful work. Students who are immigrants may possess a culturally stronger connection to growing and cooking food, and as a result, may experience the opportunity to be leaders. Ground Education’s curriculum is designed with all learners in mind, including general and special education students, language learners, and children with special needs. Shared participation in a school’s learning garden allows opportunities for all students to propagate feelings of success.
As the second semester starts, we are excited to have logged more than 10,000 student hours in our school gardens this year - time spent exploring, wondering, planting, cooking, tending, experimenting and connecting. We'd like to extend a huge thank you to our sponsors and partner schools for embracing the power of nature to educate and inspire. We look forward to a fun and bountiful Spring.
As we continue to expand, we discover schools all over Long Beach that have beautiful garden spaces - blank slates ready for students to think, explore, and connect to the natural world as part of their school day. This year we've added Hudson to our program, and we started with a series of apple explorations to generate excitement for the harvests to come.
Thanks to the help of some social media volunteers, we have launched our Facebook site. Find us at www.facebook.com/GroundEducationLB/
At Ground Education, one of our core beliefs is that planting a seed alongside a student is a powerful act that presents almost limitless possibilities to think, explore and experience. That potential makes a thriving school garden a perfect canvas for integrating ideas about how the world works and our important role in nature. Where the seed planting leads is exciting every time. Here are some places we go...
This is a BIG summer for Ground Education. We've found a place to call home - at least for our cadre of teaching and garden supplies. Thanks to our generous donors and like-minded friends, we have a brand new shipping container, a secure yard to protect it, and a small office space. We couldn't be happier. And our new central location will make it easier to add more teachers and schools to our portfolio. A sincere thank you to:
Ground Education is now working with one of our favorite outdoor learning gardens at Los Cerritos Elementary. The level of parent, student, staff, and community excitement is unprecedented, with more than 70 people attending our kick-off work party. So far, third graders have made homemade seasonal jam and first graders have tasted a range of yummy and surprising plant parts. We look forward to a long-term partnership with this amazing school and its can-do parent Garden Committee.
Yay!!! After months of waiting, Ground Education is officially a tax-exempt organization and donors can now deduct any contributions they make to our outdoor education program. We are anxious to find new partners who will help us bring our award-winning outdoor education program to new schools. Let the funding search begin...
and our native plants are loving it. Last weekend Ground Education partnered with the Los Cerritos Wetlands Stewards and students from CSULB to plant more than 150 natives in our Schoolyard Habitat at Lowell Elementary. We braved steep slopes and sneaky winds to welcome these specimens to their new home. This is Phase III of a multi-year effort to remove invasive ice plant and provide a thoughtful, native sanctuary for local wildlife and vegetation. Elementary students help with every step, and have been discovering many new visitors to the school, including western fence lizards and local sweat bees. And now Mother Nature is doing her part, providing much needed seasonal rains. Hooray.
We are in the middle of the largest migration in history. For the first time ever, more than half of the world's people live in urban areas. So what, then, is nature's role in a city? Perhaps the most exciting glimpse of what nature can mean for cities is emerging from scientists who find that a little bit of urban nature helps people truly flourish. A 2015 study in Barcelona found that green spaces around schools improve the mental development of young children. A Toronto study showed that increasing the number of trees on a street significantly improves resident health.*
Our students are building "green infrastructure" at several Long Beach schools by planting schoolyard habitats with plants that function as naturally occurring plant communities. We believe that nature can help make cities healthier, more resilient and more appealing places to live - and that we can conserve nature not from cities, but for cities.
*The Nature Conservancy, Feb/March 2016