Green in the Middle, A Salem Public Schools Garden Program

This week I was invited to visit the “Green in the Middle” garden at the Nathaniel Bowditch School, here in Salem.  The garden began as part of a garden club at the school’s former location on Federal Street. Now it’s the work of a group of middle school students and teachers who participate in an after school program during the fall and spring and a morning summer program. The participants plan, maintain and enjoy this amazing space and in the process learn about subjects in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and math).

Over the past three years the students have designed and installed many great features like this spiral stone path and the bench around the Silk tree.

There are raised beds full of flowers, herbs and vegetables! It’s beautifully done!

Many aspects of gardening are being explored.

From a simple, perfect hibiscus flower…

to a variety of heirloom tomatoes that are grown from seed in the greenhouse.

A great pumpkin plant is creeping across the yard…

and a gourd is tucked in, with morning glories for company.

I found swiss chard with cucumbers about to climb over them. This is a great idea for my garden next year!

The corn is coming right along.

I also found some beautiful pepper plants. Notice the army of watering cans in the background? Lots of work is underway here!

Colorful cement blocks decorated by students define the butterfly garden.


and beautiful decorations are everywhere!

After my visit I spoke with my friend Deborah Trammell, one of the teachers who works with the program. She described some of the educational opportunities that the garden offers this way:

 “The students designed, mapped, built, planted, studied and wrote about the garden. Some of the highlights are our composter (around the corner), increase in number of raised beds, butterfly garden against wall, spiral pathway. Many of our plants are started by seed in our greenhouse. We have many heirloom varieties of tomatoes. We have made lots of food from our plants,made bird houses, seed paper,planters …soaps, sachets, linen sprays which we have sold to raise money to donate, learned about pollinators and organic gardening, mapping, construction, fundraising and hard physical work…and so many other things” 

I’d love to see more programs like this. As a parent I have a huge appreciation of the value of gardening with children. It was exciting to visit this beautiful Salem garden where everything the garden teaches is shared and encouraged. I really believe that the world would be a better place if every child could learn from a garden!

Michele

A Great Stop in DC—The US Botanic Garden, Children’s Garden

We were in Washington DC a few weeks ago and I treated myself to a walk in the US Botanic Garden.  I would have taken my  family with me for my walk but it was literally 108 degrees that day. They stayed in the cool air conditioned Smithsonian while I enjoyed the garden. Needless to say I had the whole thing to myself and it was glorious! I spent about 45 minutes relaxing and taking in every nook and cranny. One of the highlights was the Children’s Garden. It’s a beautiful child friendly oasis in the middle of all of the DC action.

The Children’s Garden is located just outside of the huge conservatory.

The plants are so varied.  The  shapes, colors, sizes and textures are really engaging.

The posted rules are simple and child friendly.

I saw pots of plants waiting for kids to put into the ground themselves.

Unfortunately I missed the photo, but I loved the concept!

There’s a fountain (pictured on the left) that children can play in and use to water plants. There’s a wonderful green-roofed playhouse!Along with places to hide and run…and to pretend and just “be”…It was easy to get lost in the whimsy and fun.

I hope that next time my children are in the photos too!

They would have enjoyed this… it’s a great place for families to learn, relax and spend time together while enjoying Washington DC.

I could have stayed for hours!

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