Category Archives: Teaching

Explain that again: What is an outdoor classroom?

UTennessee coverThe Vegetable Project proposes to build an outdoor classroom at Myers Middle School. But what exactly is that?

We are thinking of an outdoor space that offers teaching and learning opportunities that may not work quite as well indoors, taking advantage especially of stimulation of all the senses, the contribution that contact with nature makes to wellbeing and the real-world experiences that can make learning feel relevant. Perhaps, however, that still does not explain what exactly an outdoor classroom is.

It is worth knowing then that there really is no single definition. The term is used Continue reading

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

Capturing interest in school with deep exploration

Outdoor classroom pix6Amid considerable and never-ending worry about how little of academia’s teaching seems to sink in, it just might be worth trading some of the enormous breadth of information that we shovel at students for a bit of depth.

Here’s some great food for thought in a New York Times article 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

Adding ‘nature deficit disorder’ to our lexicon

We started spending less time outdoors and our exposure to nature started to diminish more than a hundred years ago, as the number of people required to produce our food fell off sharply. Somewhere along the way, the notion of kids exploring the woods or the creek near their homes gave way to the idea that it’s dangerous out there without close parental supervision. And then the trend toward indoor liLast childves really accelerated in the last generation or so, with the explosion of hand-held digital entertainment, to the point that few kids today will ever build a fort in the vacant lot or a tree house out back.

A definitive straight-line cause-and-effect relationship between all of this and soaring incidence of childhood obesity, diabetes, asthma, depression and attention challenges may be tough to nail down. But research that just about shouts out, “Hey, you 21st century Americans enjoying the greatest material wealth the world has ever known, you’re putting yourself at risk with all that 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

Think spring with High Mowing Organic Seeds

top-seed-banner3With snowdrops pushing up through the white stuff around Albany, spring must be getting near. So it is time for many of us, and we hope for you, to start planning to produce spring-fresh tastes in your yard and to add color around Continue reading

With support, Vegetable Project season never ends

last-harvest-dec1We pulled up the last of our root vegetables last week – carrots, turnips and beets that we started from seed in late July and early August. But the Vegetable Project season is not nearly over (and really never is). For example, we will prepare some tasty dishes with these and more that we grew in the weeks ahead with our Myers Middle School Garden Club. And it is pretty safe Continue reading

Co-op supports donating to Vegetable Project

co-op-logoJust a quick word here to say that you can contribute to the Vegetable Project over the next three months if you shop at the Honest Weight Food Co-op. As many of you probably know, the Co-op encourages shoppers to give to a variety of community organizations the five cents they receive for each reusable shopping bag they bring with them. Cashiers give shoppers an Envirotoken for each bag. And then shoppers can place the Envirotokens with designated community groups on their way out of the store. The Vegetable Project is currently one of the beneficiaries of the program.

Please look for the Vegetable Project in the Envirotoken display next time you shop at the Co-op. And thanks so much to the Co-op, Albany’s natural and organic food market, for ongoing support of our work to grow healthy children in Albany with our garden-based teaching and learning.

–Bill Stoneman