Category Archives: Uncategorized

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

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

An Evening in the Myers Garden to see our work

We started digging in the dirt at Myers Middle School in the fall of 2009. We have introduced hundreds and hundreds of kids to the tastes of fresh picked vegetables since then. We have created countless opportunities for hands-on teaching and evening-flier-2016learning in our afterschool Garden Club, in classrooms, with high school students working at summer jobs and more. We have gotten some of our produce out into the community, on the shelves of the Honest Weight Food Co-op and Cardona’s Market.

Still, we would love for so many more of our friends – those we know and those we have not yet met – to see what we have been up to lately. Won’t you please join us for an Evening in an EnchantedGarden on Wednesday Sept. 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. We will be offering garden tours and tastes and demonstrations. We’ll have music and a bit too eat!

We would love it as well if you would help us spread the word by sending the attached flier to your e-mail friends and a link to our Facebook event to your Facebook friends. https://www.facebook.com/events/1684769585179863/We are behind the school building, at 100 Elbel Court. With just a bit of luck, we’ll still have tomatoes on the vine. Hope to see you there.

— Bill Stoneman

A better way to encourage healthy eating at school

6-2016, Bill Stoneman, Albany school gardens

A flashpoint of sorts in Michelle Obama’s push for healthy school lunches is a requirement since 2012 that schools make daily offerings of fruits and vegetables. The fine print plays out differently from one circumstance to another, but it mostly requires students to take fruits and vegetables on their trays. But then, as you might guess, huge portions of that healthy food go straight into the trash.

So one indignant camp scoffs at the requirements, formally issued by the U.S. Continue reading

Why garden? Why the Vegetable Project?

What exactly drives us to build gardens at Albany schools and then lead kids out to them? Why would we bother with those time-consuming fundraising initiatives, like Boxtops for Education, and those time-consuming chores in the garden, like weeCompost pileding and watering? What is the big deal about growing some of our own lettuce and tomatoes, when it’s so cheap in the supermarket?

For one thing, people who know something about where their food comes from are likely to make healthier choices about what they eat. And kids who help grow lettuce and tomatoes are so much more likely to taste them. We regularly see kids try greens right after proclaiming that they “never eat anything that grows in dirt.”

These explanations, however, just begin to get at the good that can come from Continue reading