Contributing development of an outdoor classroom at Myers Middle School to the Albany City School District is a substantial project, but we think well worth the effort if it gets kids outside more often and closer to nature and learning with their hands. As with any volunteer initiative, however, widespread community participation is crucial to its timely completion. Thus, we would be so pleased if you would be part of it, maybe by sharing ideas, or possibly a bit of knowledge or elbow grease or perhaps introducing to us to other people or resources. Involvement can surely range from helping to address regulatory requirements and estimate construction costs to planning longer-range funding requirements to drafting detailed plans for specific elements to communicating and to fundraising.
We have built a list of pieces of the project we could really use help with. Here is a bit about one big item:
We need to bring electricity from the school building to any greenhouse that we build to power a fire alarm. We dearly hope to bring water from the building to a more central location, for watering our garden and likely to create simple food prep capabilities. The school district facilities folks estimate that an electrical conduit will cost about $20,000 and that extending water will run about $10,000. It appears that we need serious help with this from a licensed professional engineer or architect. We will need to organize our plan into a building permit application to the state Education Department.
Know someone who might lend a hand, at least to help us get our bearings?
The Vegetable Project, which has been digging in the dirt at Myers Middle School since 2009, proposes further developing space around its gardens to create an outdoor classroom for the school. The idea is that an outdoor classroom would serve as a living science laboratory, a place where English classes might be encouraged to write and art students might be given a chance to observe. In each Continue reading
Potted strawberry plans await planing.
Fresh air lessens symptoms of both attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, according to environmental psychologist Louise Chawla. And kids who spend time outdoors often develop better social skills, says Sarah Leibel, a lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
These and other research findings make a great case for taking teaching and learning outdoors when possible, concludes the New York School Boards Association in its Study Break series https://soundcloud.com/user-308199334/go-ahead-fool-with-mother-nature-the-outdoors-is-an-effective-learning-tool, which provides quick audio suggestions to school leaders. And an Continue reading
The Vegetable Project wants to do much more at Myers Middle School than just dig in the dirt with kids. In fact, we propose building an outdoor classroom at the school to support a whole new dimension to teaching and learning.
The possibilities for such a development include amenities like these:
- A shaded seating area.
- A greenhouse.
- Handicapped accessibility.
- Vegetable garden beds.
- Fruit trees.
- Food preparation facilities.
- Native plants.
- Wildlife habitat.
We would like to tell you all about our thinking and planning that we have done thus far. We would like to show you a rendering of our initial ideas by Albany landscape designer Jason Schultz. Please join us if you can on Sunday, March 19, from 4 to 5:30 p.m., at the home of Julia Farrant, 38 Brookline Avenue in Albany, for food, friends and conversation.
Can’t make this gathering? Stay tuned. We’ll organize additional opportunities to learn about this exciting project.
At Myers Middle School.
A big challenge in school gardening in this part of the world is winter. Children are at their desks, but the soil is frozen. Thus, we are please to report great help that the Whole Kids Foundation is offering us to build a workaround.
As part of an annual school gardening Continue reading
The school leaders at Saint Anne Institute have kindly offered use of a beautiful heated greenhouse on its campus to Albany High School and Abrookin Career and Technical Center. And as slightly captured in the accompanying photo, we have begun exploring how to put this great opportunity to use.
With as much as 1,000 square feet of heated and sun-lit space about 10 minutes Continue reading
Spinach very much prefers growing in cool weather.
Mother Nature and the school calendar present a couple of challenges to school gardeners in this part of the world. Conventional wisdom, for example, says do not put tomatoes in the soil around here until late May because a late frost, which would kill the tender plants, still is possible until then. But Continue reading
Our greenhouse withstood the recent high winds.
I know the winter isn’t over. But I am going to go out on a limb and say that we have made considerable strides in our greenhouse engineering. The plastic sheathing on our largest structure did not make it through the winter last year, but is looking quite good at the moment. It was standing up fine this morning to the kind of wind that really tests its mettle.