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

Why garden (#2)? Why the Vegetable Project?

July 2010 5What 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 collecting Boxtops for Education, and those time-consuming chores in the garden, like weeding and watering? And what is the big deal about growing some of our own lettuce and tomatoes, when Continue reading

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

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

Image

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