Category Archives: Uncategorized

Early glimmers of reward for faith appear in garden

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

Igniting curiosity among students not always seen

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

Outdoor instruction important for mental health

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.

As a 2018 blog post from Harvard Medical School says, “Research in a growing scientific field called ecotherapy has Continue reading

Offering garden bed sponsorship opportunities

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

Bringing education outdoors for sake of equity

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

Why a garden? Why the Vegetable Project? (#7)

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

Why do we work so hard to get kids outside (#4)?

“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 work so hard to get kids outside (#3)?

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.  

And here is more: Scholars at the University of Exeter in England note in a Scientific Reports article published last year that researchers have found Continue reading

Lessons about schooling from N.H. district

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 Contoocook Valley School District in Peterborough, N.H., however, Continue reading

Opportunity to make teaching meaningful

Maybe you noticed the Times Union article last week under the headline “Battle against invasive bug in Lake George intensifies.”

Maybe you learned by reading the article, or maybe you already knew, that the eastern hemlock, an integral part of New York forests, is under siege. The hemlock woolly adelgid, a tiny aphid-like insect from East Asia, is unfortunately doing great harm to hemlock trees by feeding on its sap.

Maybe you knew about this because you noticed the sickly looking hemlock trees scattered around the perimeter of Albany High School, such as in the Continue reading