A Garden Story:
Welcome to a featured Garden Story. From backyards to schoolyards, we want to find the Outdoor Classrooms & Children’s Gardens that are cultivating wonder, curiosity and playful learning. Our Spotlight Garden is a new outdoor classroom at The Boys and Girls Club of Frederick, Maryland. I would like to welcome and introduce Karen Fishburn, garden coordinator. She is here today to share her first stages creating an outdoor classroom.
The Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County Garden Program
By Karen Fishburn, Garden Coordinator
The Boys & Girls Club of Frederick County Garden Program (www.bgcfc.org) began on April 21, 2014 with 15 members ranging in age from 4 to 15. Many members had little or no experience with gardening. Our first assignments were to investigate types of gardens, learn how plants grow and what they need to grow successfully, decide on types of plants, and plot out the arrangement of the plants. After receiving input and permission from the City of Frederick to create a garden space on the Boys and Girls Club property, we broke ground on May 10, 2014. Gardening tools, soil, and seeds were purchased from Lowe’s (they provided us with a 25% discount on all we purchased – thank you Lowes!). Donations from outside sources allowed us to purchase all our plants from the local high school plant program. Planting day arrived on May 12, 2014. We decided to divide the space up into herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Seeds and plants were used so that members could see the difference in planting techniques.
After planting day, members painted personalized, unique tiles (recycled from a bathroom renovation) to create a stepping stone path in the garden. Members assisted in photo documentation of the garden progress, as well as weeding, watering and general maintenance of the area. The program ran for one hour every Monday evening for 8 weeks. Once the summer session began, many more members than our original 15 wanted to help out in the garden. We even had a local volunteer group from the United Way come out and help with weeding the space.
Our garden has really grown and the kids can see how their hard work has paid off in delicious vegetables and beautiful flowers. The kids get really excited when something new starts growing in the garden – watermelons are just starting. We have eaten everything that has come up so far with all members trying squash, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, and many herbs. We even made salsa – what a hit! We are also trying to come up with a natural insect repellent that members can make with ingredients from the garden and use at the Club. We hope to keep the garden growing into the fall (pumpkins and gourds to be planted this week) and are already planning changes/additions and seeking donations for next year’s garden.
OUTDOOR-CLASSROOMS EDUCATIONAL TAKE-AWAYS fromThe Boys and Girls Club of Frederick County Garden Program
This garden is a great example of….
- The empowerment opportunities that come from involving children in the process of designing, buiding and maintaining an outdoor classroom.
- The benefits of reaching out to the community for resources and volunteer oppotunities.
- A Garden that Feeds
- The creative uses of recycled materials for extension art activities
- Build it and they will come – more people got involved after the core group got it started.
Is your Outdoor Classroom your pride and joy? Has the garden next door become the outdoor learning lab of the neighborhood? From backyards to schoolyards, we want to find the Outdoor Classrooms & Children’s Gardens that are cultivating wonder, curiosity and playful learning.
Submit your Outdoor Classroom nominations now!
Send your recommendations to Victoria Hackett at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- “Garden of the Month” in the subject line
- Contact information
- Programs description
- Outdoor Classroom Garden location
- Lot’s and lot’s of pictures!