“We founded our company on the premise that gardens change lives,” the folks at Gardeners Supply, a Vermont-based seller of cool garden paraphernalia says at its website these days. “They nourish the body, elevate the spirit, and build community. More than ever, after a year of incredible suffering and hardship caused by Covid-19, the world needs more gardens.”
O, we at the Vegetable Project do so agree. And though we cannot match the eloquence of these words with our own, we might humbly add that nourishing the body, elevating the spirit and building community would go a long way in schools where we work, maybe even farther than half the official learning standards combined take most students.
The Vegetable Project’s mission is to create hands-on learning opportunities for Albany children, and especially children with great needs, by building gardens, growing plants and harnessing the power of exposure to nature. In other words, we organized our nonprofit around the premise that gardens change lives.
Please c’mon and visit us at Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School and Albany High School and learn more about what we do.
There are easier ways to put food on the table than growing your own fruits and vegetables, not to mention threshing your own grain to make your own bread. Shopping in a supermarket comes to mind. The hands-on learning opportunities, however, that come with doing and touching and tasting and experiencing in the garden seem well worth the effort to the folks behind the Vegetable Project.
Enough so that a few of the hardier souls were out on snowy days in early February putting seeds in the soil. It must have taken some faith to believe that that made Continue reading →
Outdoor instruction will go mainstream in public K-12 schools. And when it does, such as when one teacher says “we can do an algebra lesson under a tree” and another says “real trees and vistas might actually be a good thing for an American history lesson,” there will be no turning back. At least if what Brooke Teller said on CBS Sunday Morning the other day is correct.
Teller, who was named coordinator of outdoor instruction with Portland (Maine) Public Schools last summer, said that outdoor learning “ignites a curiosity in students that we don’t necessarily see when they are confined between four walls at home or in a classroom.”
It’s hard to imagine getting better than that! So kudos to the Portland school district, which didn’t wait for the Continue reading →
Educators are gravely concerned these days, and rightly so, that social isolation, meant to slow the spread of a deadly disease, is taking a toll on the mental health of kids across the country. An Internet search for words like “mental health students pandemic” provides a sense of the broad conversation inside schools about addressing the concerning situation.
We largely find advice that talks about identifying kids having difficulty and then connecting them with professional resources. We see and hear much less, however, about an entirely different path that an online search for “mental health nature” reveals. And that is worrisome. Because academic research linking mental health to contact with nature has been piling up for years.
The Vegetable Project, which digs in the dirt with Albany High School and Stephen and Harriet Myers Middle School students, would be pleased to showcase the names of friends who help make its research-based work with Albany students possible. We will mount a handsome sign on 2-by-10 sides of our raised garden beds at both of our school locations in Continue reading →
Many of us are fortunate enough to be able to take vacations now and then, but not all of us. And many of us often head on those vacations for the beach, or the mountains or maybe one of our great national parks, though these places aren’t accessible to Continue reading →
What exactly drives us to build gardens at Albany schools and then lead kids out to them?
It is the Vegetable Project’s mission to create hands-on learning opportunities for children in Albany, and especially children with great needs, by building gardens, growing plants and harnessing the power of exposure to nature. But why?
We strive to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged kids in our community who struggle academically and Continue reading →
“Individuals who visit natural spaces weekly, and feel psychologically connected to them, report better physical and mental wellbeing, new research has shown,” according to a news release issued by the University of Plymouth in England, where the report’s lead author is based. If you spend time in schools where academic performance measurements are troubling, the findings, published in the British Journal of Environmental Psychology, just might feel very relevant.
We at the Vegetable Project talk about getting kids outdoors, in January Continue reading →
Why do we talk so much about getting kids outdoors, in January when it’s freezing and in July when it’s broiling, when we know it is such a big challenge for their teachers? And so many of the kids aren’t eager either? Here is an earlier take on the subject. And another. And another.
Schools far and wide are flummoxed by the nearly no-win choice between in-the-classroom instruction and teaching over the Internet. It would be hard to overstate how cumbersome virtual instruction is, given learning-curve challenges with the online platforms, connectivity issues and endless distractions in so many students’ homes. But safety in the school building is a huge concern.
The Vegetable Project in Albany, N.Y., established in 2009, creates hands-on learning opportunities that involve science, the environment, entrepreneurship, tasting really fresh food and responsibility for care of living things by growing vegetables and other plants.