Cultivate gardens, cultivate STEM learning
Here at Cram MS, we are so happy to have Ms. Siegel, Mr. Maffet, and Ms. Griffin, they have impacted their students and the fantastic work to embed a substantial school community garden. With the introduction of the hydroponic growing systems, our school was chosen to be featured in a multi-part filming with Green Our Planet Foundation from the unboxing of the systems in-school, to a mid-year update on the progress growing our indoor crops and wrapping the year up with the student-led farmers market interviews and event filming. The whole filming experience was for the financial benefactor who paid for four-fifths of the hydroponic systems to over 200 schools throughout the United States.
A fresh perspective on school gardens
With a fresh perspective of a new farmer working with our school, we have really taken the gardens to new levels. Not only in the production of food but new levels of use in these areas. We have taught science classes at least once a month, if not more, using the outdoor garden as our working classroom and lab. Students and staff both worked hands-on in cultivating new crops of food in the outdoor and indoor gardens and producing them in bulk quantities.
Food, learning and entrepreneurship
This has had several benefits ranging from being able to harvest large quantities to take the student-led farmer’s markets in both the fall and spring events, supplying the ingredients that were needed for a chef-led cooking class, and also has provided food as needed for some of our school’s own students and their families. Our school was also selected as a beta-tester to Green Our Planet’s new line of video curriculums which include middle school-specific lessons. As we move forward in the coming year, we are hoping to add more beds outdoors and to learn how to grow and harvest produce from indoor hydroponics more efficiently to keep the grow tables both manageable and productive.
It’s a chicken and egg thing!
One more special addition to our gardening program will actually make it more of a farming program. CHICKENS! Yes, we are looking to get final approvals lined up as our principal, Mr. Gary Bugash, has given his blessing to the introduction of raising chickens at our school and beginning egg farming. Each year we learn more about the food we eat and where it comes from and how it is produced, giving our students better insights and the personal means to make better choices in their own daily diets.
Totally bugging out – in a good way!
There is more, diving deep into the complex ecosystem that lives within the soil and we gradually built up a compost terrarium of worms, mealworms, ladybugs, crickets, fruit flies, praying mantis, springtails, and other microorganisms. We were able to really get deep into metamorphosis, but also learned gentleness as we conquered fears and held all the different types of bugs and cared for them. Our praying mantis eggs hatching last week was a very special moment. Here in our bug farm, we create great fresh and nutrient-packed soil for our outdoor garden as well as breed garden protectors like ladybugs and praying mantis.
The Farmpreneurs are giving back
Not only did Cram participate at the Farmers Market, but Cram also had an ongoing fundraiser with the Perler pins. The students experienced having a craft and produce business, engaging in enterprise with their knowledge and skills, WHILE part-taking in the process of a documentary. The students continued to learn about life that you can only see under a microscope (algae and bacteria). At the same time, they learned a lot about soil, the helpful creatures of the garden, and tiny ecosystems such as bugs, metamorphosis, and all the different roles and jobs that each of them has in the garden and in the world. In continuing our implementation, the Green Planet has asked Cram MS to assist in developing a “Five Kingdoms” curriculum. How exciting, the garden team keeps on growing.
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