The Educational Garden at Inman Elementary is growing a wealth of learning opportunities. Students in the Inman Garden Club are getting their hands dirty and making their school beautiful along the way.
The Garden Club provides students with a more in-depth learning of gardening concepts and practices, as well as life skills, which they can apply beyond the classroom and into their everyday lives like teamwork, responsibility, critical thinking, and problem solving. Club members are responsible for maintaining the Educational Garden areas and making sure they are ready to support Inman’s main purpose of teaching and learning.
“The Garden Club allows students to take ownership of and pride in their garden,” said club sponsor Charlie Harper. “We hope our students walk away feeling inspired to embrace gardening, empowered as imaginative problem solvers, and willing to try new things. We want to ‘plant the seed’ for healthy eating habits and living through authentic, experiential learning.”
In addition to preparing and maintaining the raised-bed and traditional gardening spaces, amending the soil, planting and harvesting, teachers and students utilize the gardens for STEAM activities. They use it to make connections to literacy and writing, critical thinking and problem-solving, creative and imaginative thinking, and research skills.
Inman students in any grade are allowed to participate, and teachers, staff, parents, and community volunteers help them tend to the garden. It has been such a hit that, when they first started gauging interest, they realized they needed to split the club into two groups (K-3rd and 4th/5th) where they meet on alternate weeks. Harper calls it a great problem to have.
The lessons learned in the garden go beyond just what is planted in the ground. Students can positively impact their community through charitable service and it also encourages friendship and cooperation, both among themselves and with adults in the school community. Gardening can also be calming as you work outside and get your hands in the dirt.
“Gardening activities offer a wide range of benefits to all students, and it’s especially helpful for students with anxiety and those with a little extra energy – slowing down to watch pollinators, closely observing and studying leaf and stem structures, carrying bags of soil, tug-o-war with stubborn weeds,” said Harper. “There are simply too many beneficial tasks and aspects to list. Essentially though, we want them to walk away with a joy for exploration, experimentation, discovery, and an appreciation for horticulture.”
It is truly a group effort to keep the Education Garden beautiful, including the Inman Garden Club Leadership Team of Erika Hill, Catrina Didier, Laura Gleason, Kristen Marcus, Rebecca Goffonett, and Jesse Cooper. There have been many businesses and organizations that chipped in by donating funds, materials, or other kids of support like Minter Farms, Fayette County Farm Bureau, Fayette Master Gardener Association, Captain Planet Foundation, P&C Landscaping, Lowe’s Home Improvement, UGA Fayette County Extension, Kindred Roots Farm and Nailed it DIY Fayetteville.
“Together we intend to foster organic gardening practices, healthy eating habits, respect and awareness for the environment, responsibility, cooperation, community involvement, and aesthetics,” said Harper. “We believe it is important for children to understand where their food comes from, how they can incorporate healthy foods into their diet, and how they can positively contribute to the environment.”
— This article provided by the Fayette County School System.