Many elementary schools have begun incorporating gardening and conservation as part of their instruction or as an extra-curricular activity. This is good news. Parent volunteers and teachers have worked hard to implement these hands-on teaching projects. For a little extra help in that department, one can refer to a book entitled Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation.
Author Sharon Gamson Danks includes 500+ photos in her book, drawing from her visits to more than 150 innovative ‘green’ schools in 11 countries. Wow. The book offers a vast range of possibilities to enhance schoolyard environments. In essence, one is bringing the field trip to the school. Danks’s advice for creating these unique landscapes also includes information about the participatory design process.
Some schools have gone on to bring the classroom outdoors with edible gardening. Loftier projects may include orchards, raising chickens, or creating wildlife habitats for more than just insect study. Adding the arts element, some may take it further creating a garden theater. Or even a reading circle garden milieu. On a grand scale there’s always rainwater catchment systems, experimenting with renewable energy systems and finding new uses for waste materials including lunch room scraps.
Piece o’ cake. You can have your parking lot, your ball field . . . and your ecosystem too.
Nancy R. Peck