Moving outdoor classroom project forward (#3)

May 2010 3Building our garden at Myers Middle School into an outdoor classroom may take considerably more than a village – maybe a village and a team and a movement. And maybe more than that. So we would be so pleased if you would be part of it, maybe by contributing ideas, or Succession growth1possibly a bit of knowledge or elbow grease or perhaps introducing to us to other people or resources. Involvement can surely range from joining a committee working on all of this to 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:

The space that we use was wide open when we started in 2009, but now is growing rather shaggy. It’s a pretty good example of ecological succession that students learn about in living environment classes. But this raises an important question about whether we should leave nature to takes its course or should we intervene. We would welcome guidance in taking stock of what is growing, whether we are passively encouraging invasive species to do damage, or for that matter aggressive native plants, and what our options are. For example, should we look the other way as purple loosestrife takes root or aquatic-looking and invasive phragmites spreads? How about sumac trees, which are native to these parts, but surely spread more aggressively than many others?

Maybe there is a class project, full of teaching opportunity, here.

—Bill Stoneman

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