Category Archives: Outdoor classroom

Planting seeds to connect with disengaged students

Arugula seedlingsThe tiny specs of green in the accompanying photo, taken in the morning on Sunday, Oct. 1, are arugula seedlings. We scattered arugula seeds four days earlier, on Wednesday, Sept. 27. It’s worth noting that some seeds still germinate at this late point in the season. We are fairly confident, if not 100 percent certain, that leaves on these plants still have enough Continue reading

Something definitely worth finding down there

Last childIf we could hire Richard Louv, the author of Last Child in the Woods – Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder, to explain what school gardening and the Vegetable Project and our work to create an outdoor classroom at Myers Middle School are about, he might come up with something like his essay There Might be Something Down There, posted at the Children & Nature Network website on Tuesday.

Pushing back against advocates for longer school days and longer school years, he says, “That approach just doesn’t seem to be working” and argues instead for encouraging kids to spend more time outside experiencing and exploring nature. “Nature connection doesn’t have the same impact on every young person. It’s not a panacea for education. It’s a doorway. That’s what a growing body of scientific evidence suggests.”

We could not agree more. Hope you will give it a read.

And here is a really nice piece on CNN about a kindred spirit of an individual and organization in Harlem.

http://www.cnn.com/2017/08/10/health/cnn-hero-tony-hillery-harlem-grown/index.html

Together, we can make a difference.

–Bill Stoneman

Hope to see you at the Myers garden next Tuesday

Our second Evening in the Garden is coming quickly, on Tuesday, Sept. 12, from 5:30 to 7 p.m., at Myers Middle School. And we would love it if you would join us. Take a tour of the garden. Taste from the garden and five great local food purveyors, from Caffe Italia RistoranteHonest Weight Food Co-opCapital City GastropubKismet Mediterranean Grill and Berben and Wolff’s Vegan Delicatessen. And enjoy demonstrations of garden and food-prep related opportunities.

Most of all, we would love to share with you our plans for an outdoor classroom at Myers.

Hope to see you there. Can hardly wait!

–Bill Stoneman

In search of assistance from licensed professionals

Building permitContributing 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?

—Bill Stoneman

A flower in our garden with peril and promise

Purple loosestrifeThe flower in the accompanying picture is rather attractive, don’t you think? And it’s popping up here and there around our garden at Myers Middle School. Only problem with the herbaceous perennial plant, Lythrum salicaria, which occurs naturally in Europe, Asia and parts of Africa and Australia, is a minor tendency to push out native plants in North Continue reading

Moving outdoor classroom project forward

Berk Botanical Garden shade structure4Creating an outdoor classroom at Myers Middle School, as we propose to do, may take considerably more than a village – maybe a village and a team and a movement. And maybe more than that. Thus, we would be so pleased if you would be part of it, maybe by contributing ideas, or possibly a bit of knowledge or elbow grease or perhaps introducing to us to other Continue reading

Proposing an outdoor classroom at middle school

Site plan 2017-01The 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

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School boards group praises outdoor classroom

6-2016, Bill Stoneman, Albany school gardens

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

Building outdoor classroom at Myers Middle School

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.

–Bill Stoneman