Math, literature, gardening: a new take on public school curriculum.

June 18, 2010

The CitySprouts mission is to develop, implement and maintain beautiful, resource-rich school gardens in collaboration with public school communities. Integrated into the curriculum, CitySprouts gardens inspire teachers, students, and families with a deep, hands-on connection to the food cycle, sustainable agriculture, and the natural environment.

In my “Home Economics” course in middle school we learned how to sift flour and bake cakes.  Great party knowledge, no doubt, but those are not lifeskills.  I firmly believe that students should leave the public school system with the knowledge they need to run productive and sustainable lives.  Learning how to feed yourself is just as important as knowing how to read. Even more, learning how to garden can be interwoven with lessons  from math, science or other subjects in creative and fun ways.  CitySprouts, a Cambridge non-profit started by a concerned parent, maintains gardens at all of the elementary schools in the city.

I had my job training at CitySprouts this past Tuesday.  I am a part of the Summer Crew, an afternoon garden maintenance group that travels via bike. We caravaned to a handful of the gardens and had a chance to speak with one of the garden coordinators.  The gardens are looking lush,  if a bit haphazard.  Like any garden, there is always weeding to be done–except of course in the designated “Digging Box”. The crew is excited to get our hands dirty.

I’m happy to be spending two afternoons a week supporting the CitySprouts mission.  In the summer they run an internship program for middle schoolers and during the school year they work with teachers and administrators to fold the garden into existing curriculum. It is too hard to develop brand new material, but not so hard to connect the garden with other lessons.  In addition, they organize after-school garden drop-ins, cafeteria tastings and invite farmers to talk with students.  The coordinator we met has been working with seed-starting teachers at King Open School on Cambridge Street (her blog here).  CitySprouts is doing it right, and hopes to be a model for school systems across the nation.

Do your part to support CitySprouts: They are a beneficiary of A Taste of Cambridge, to take place June 24.

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