Myers outdoor classroom project advancing

Seating3The Vegetable Project has begun development of the outdoor classroom that it proposed creating at Myers Middle School. We purchased and assembled seating that can swing back and forth between benches with backs and benches with tabletops.

With conviction that a change of scenery now and then, and especially one that bolsters contact with nature, can transform academic lives, we will be encouraging teachers to take classes outside come springtime. Along with picnic tables that we built years earlier, we now have a place behind the school building and near our garden where more than 30 students can sit.

And that’s not all. Sue Davis, principal architect with SD Atelier – Architecture, L.L.C. in Saratoga Springs, has generously offered to develop design options and prepare preliminary design work – on terms that the Vegetable Project can manage – for a shade structure to cover the seating. This, we expect, will move us close to seeking our first building permits, talking with contractors and firming up construction cost estimates.

More than that, we know from increased fruit production that three apple trees that we planted in 2016 are settling in well. We planted three blueberry bushes in 2018. We are exploring sizes and shapes and configurations of greenhouses. And we have had positive conversations with prospective financial supporters.

We expect that holding classes outdoors occasionally – and classes for all subjects, regardless of connection to the garden – will become in time an irresistible option for Myers teachers. In addition to a shaded sitting area, a science laboratory greenhouse, vegetable garden beds and fruit trees, outdoor classroom amenities will likely include handicapped accessibility, food preparation facilities, native plants and wildlife habitat.

Completing this vision, of course, will take financial resources and help from all the friends in the community that we can find. Then, making the physical space into an integral part of the school’s educational offering will require marshalingresources to support the school staff. Developing appropriate plans for using the outdoor space and getting comfortable with bringing energetic 11-, 12- and 13-year-olds into a less structured settings will challenge experienced professionals. Building the kind of success that we hope will serve as a model at other Albany schools will also take planning for the cost daily and long-term maintenance of the facility.

Please read more here about specific tasks and challenges ahead as well as to find links to all sorts of related information.

Thanks for your interest.

–Bill Stoneman




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