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March/April 2001
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How Does Your Garden Grow?
by Linda C. Joseph, Columbus (Ohio) Public Schools, Library of Congress

[Editor's note: URLs mentioned in this article appear in the chart that follows.]

When is the perfect time to plan a schoolyard garden or habitat? As e.e. cummings wrote, "in Justóspring when the world is mud-luscious." Imagine watching butterflies flitting from flower to flower or listening to the melodic coo of a morning dove as ornamental grasses sway in the gentle breeze. Each day your students keep a journal of the natural world. The classroom is buzzing with shared experiences. Your schoolyard habitat becomes the focal point.

Constructing a garden is a wonderful project that can involve the entire school and community. Beautifying the school grounds fosters pride, teaches students about the environment, and creates a lasting legacy. Many schools already participate in garden or habitat projects sponsored by the National Wildlife Federation and the National Gardening Association. State and local wildlife organizations also provide programs for schools along with resources. Where do you begin? How does a garden project fit into your daily classroom instruction? Who will provide funding? CyberBee has been scouting the Web for ideas that can sow the seeds for growing, inquiring minds.
 

Garden Beginnings

Backyard Wildlife HabitatóNational Wildlife Federation
At first you may think a garden project will be an overwhelming task. However, it is not difficult with careful planning and help from the National Wildlife Federation. Simply follow their step-by-step process. Create your habitat team, inventory, survey, and map the site, set goals, provide four basic elements, acquire resources through community outreach, fundraise, and incorporate the habitat in cross-curricular learning. When your project is complete, register to be a certified Schoolyard Habitat. As of December 20, 2000, there were 1,156 certified Schoolyard Habitat sites.

Kids GardeningóNational Gardening Association
As the chill of winter fades, kindle an interest in gardening concepts with your students by starting seeds indoors. The National Gardening Association supports the Garden in Every School Registry. This program was launched in 1999 to document and highlight schoolyard habitats that enrich learning. Their Web site has an array of tips, activities, and resources specifically targeted to teachers and students. In addition, there is a kid's gardening store where grow labs, tools, books, and other paraphernalia can purchased.

Kid's Valley Garden
This kid-friendly site was developed for the Pakenham Junior Horticultural Society, Canada. Students will find guides for planning and planting a garden along with tips for keeping plants healthy and showing them in competitions. How to grow a variety of flowers, herbs, vegetables, and shrubs rounds out the information.
 

Lessons

Hope Grows: A WebQuest for Researching and Designing a School Garden
Hope Grows is an excellent WebQuest created by Kristina L. Marchant that combines math, science, language arts, and science activities around a garden theme. The introduction begins, "Our school needs a garden, and our class has been chosen to serve as Garden Experts!" Each team of garden experts has a specific topic to investigate. Delightful graphics are used to guide students in their quest to find information and solve problems. Once students have completed the preliminary tasks, they are ready to plan and make their garden. A rubric is included for evaluating the activity, computer efforts, presentation, and participation.

Kidz Korner Presents Spring Observations
Here is a quick lesson that can be combined with science. Have your students draw a circle in the schoolyard. Then, have them keep a diary of what they see happening from day to day. Compare the observations. Visit the Web site for more details.
 

Garden Poetry, Quotes, and Songs
Music and language arts can be integrated into your lesson by using poetry and songs. Have students write their own poetry and illustrate their works.

Can Teach
CanTeach is a non-commercial site created to assist teachers in finding and using resources online. Songs and poems for the elementary grades are categorized and easy to locate. An entire page is devoted to seeds, plants, flowers, and gardens.

Garden Pursuits: Garden Poetry
More traditional poetry offerings are presented at this Web site. Familiar poets such as William Blake, Sara Teasdale, and Rudyard Kipling inspire the reader who visits.

KidzSing: The Garden Song by David Mallett
Tap your feet and sing to the karaoke music.

Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground.
 

Where to Buy Seeds and Plants
Incorporate history and primary sources into your garden lesson by delving into the background information of various seed companies. Many sites contain photographs of the founders along with interesting stories. Gurney's purchased a radio station and listeners all over the country tuned into "Station WNAX, Voice of the House of Gurney."

Burpee
Burpee has been in business for 125 years. Founded by W. Atlee Burpee in 1876, the company is known for its innovation and the introduction of hybrid marigolds, Big Boy tomatoes, and Iceberg lettuce. Send for a free catalogue, order online, or sign up for an e-mail newsletter filled with tips and gardening secrets.

Ferry-Morse
Shop flowers by color from one of the oldest seed companies in America. In 1856 Dexter Mason Ferry formed a partnership with Milo T. Gardner and Eber F. Church. The company was known as Gardner, Ferry, and Church. When Gardner and Church retired, the name was changed to D. M. Ferry and Company. After Ferry's death, his seed business continued and eventually was merged with the D.D. Morse Company to form the Ferry-Morse Seed Company.

Gurney's Seed and Nursery Company
Gurney's has been serving customers for over 130 years. In 1893, Charles W. Gurney moved his nursery business from Dixon County, Nebraska, to Yankton, South Dakota. The first seed catalog was published in 1906. Today, you can order online. They guarantee all nursery stock, trees, and plants for as long as you garden and all seeds for one full year.

Henry Field's Seed and Nursery Company
At the age of 21, Henry Field established a gardening business by selling the produce he raised. As demand for seed grew, he switched his focus and published his first seed catalog in 1899. Request a catalog to select from a large variety of seeds then order online.

Park Seed
Choose from annuals, perennials, herbs, fruits, bulbs, shrubs, and roses. Quick facts about each plant are highlighted. Click on Garden Tip of the Day for helpful hints about all aspects of gardening. Since 1868, four generations of the Park family have headed the business. In 1983 the Park Seed Company was asked by NASA to participate in what would be called the Seeds in Space program. Initially 12.5 million tomato seeds were sent into space for a 1-year trip beginning in 1984. However, due to delays, the seeds were not retrieved until 1990. Within hours of testing, the seeds showed signs of germination that were 30 percent faster than Earth-based seeds. Park Seeds continues to be involved with NASA and schools across America in the M*A*R*Só"Mission to America's Remarkable Students" project.

Seeds of Change
The Seeds of Change mission is to improve the lives of this and future generations by preserving biodiversity and promoting the use of sustainable organic agricultural practices. All of the seeds, plants, and food sold are 100 percent organic. There are annual donations of seeds to nonprofit organizations. A list of these groups is available on their Web site.

Stokes Seeds
Stokes began supplying seed to commercial growers in New Jersey. Francis Stokes, son of the founder Walter Stokes, was the first to offer seeds in a tin can, protect seeds with a fungicide, and publish a color litho seed catalog. Detailed growing instructions are provided for annuals and perennials.

Wayside Gardens
Amazing is the only word to describe the Wayside Gardens catalog. Wonderful color illustrations and descriptions make this catalog a must-have for selecting plants. Order your free catalog online.

Seeds of Success
"To plant a garden is to believe in the future." Ten, 20, even 30 years from now, your students can come back and show their children the garden or tree they planted when they were in school. So, cultivate your design, plant the seeds of enthusiasm, and watch your garden grow.


Be sure to visit the MultiMedia Schools Home Page (http://www.infotoday.com/MMSchools) with active links to all of the Web sites mentioned in this article. Then fly over to CyberBee (http://www.cyberbee.com) for more curriculum ideas, research tools, and activities to use with your students and staff.

Garden.Com
http://www.garden.com
Design your own garden. It is free and easy to use online. Determine the garden size. Pick flowers, shrubs, shapes, decor, and other features from a variety of palettes. Drag and drop the items onto the grid to form your customized plan. Or choose from a list of templates created by professionals. Generate reports with detailed information about plants to guarantee blooming throughout the season. Then, save or print the plan.

Funding Sources

America the Beautiful Fund
http://www.america-the-beautiful.org/html/abf/news/FreeSeeds_order.htm
Applicant receives free seeds for the price of shipping and handling of $12/100 packs. Additional sets of 100 packets are $5 each.

Hammond Education Foundation
http://hammond.k12.in.us/hef/mgrants.html
Type A Mini-Grants are funds given to the regular classroom teacher who wants to do an exciting program with his or her students but needs financial assistance to carry it out.

National Gardening Association
http://www.kidsgardening.com/grants.asp
Awards 400 Youth Garden Grants to schools and other community organizations. Each grant consists of an assortment of quality tools, seeds, and garden products donated by companies in the lawn and garden industry.

Mailorder Gardening Association
Be one of 500 schools to win more than 200 premium Dutch flower bulbs, delivered in time for planting this fall! The "Kids Growing with Dutch Bulbs" Awards is sponsored by Mailorder Gardening Association.

National Wildlife Federation
The Wild Seed Fund gives 50 $250 mini-grants to assist schools in establishing Schoolyard Habitat projects.

Wild Ones: The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Fund
http://www.for-wild.org/seedmony.htm
The Lorrie Otto Seeds for Education Fund awards small monetary grants to schools, nature centers, or other educational organizations whose projects reflect creating natural landscapes using native plants.
 

Garden Beginnings

Backyard Wildlife HabitatóNational Wildlife Federation
http://www.nwf.org/habitats/

Kids GardeningóNational Gardening Association
http://www.kidsgardening.com/

Kid's Valley Garden
http://www.arnprior.com/kidsgarden/index.htm
 

Lessons

Hope Grows: A WebQuest for Researching and Designing a School Garden
http://www.richmond.edu/~ed344/webquests/schoolgarden/student.html

Kidz Korner Presents Spring Observations
http://www.osweb.com/kidzkorner/spring.htm
 

Garden Poetry, Quotes, and Songs

Can Teach
http://www.track0.com/canteach/elementary/songspoems22.html

Garden Pursuits: Garden Poetry
http://www.gardenpursuits.com/poetry/poetry.html

KidzSing: The Garden Song by David Mallett
http://members.home.net/veeceet/gardensng.html
 

Where to Buy Seeds

Burpee
http://www.burpee.com/

Ferry-Morse
http://www.ferry-morse.com

Gurney's Seed and Nursery Company
http://www.gurneys.com/

HenryField's Seed and Nursery Company
http://www.henryfields.com

Park Seed
http://www.parkseed.com

Seeds of Change
http://store.yahoo.com/seedsofchange/

Stokes Seeds
http://www.stokeseeds.com

Wayside Gardens
http://www.waysidegardens.com
 

Linda Joseph is the author of Net Curriculum: An Educatorís Guide to Using the Internet, published by CyberAge Books. The recipient of numerous awards, in addition to her work in the Columbus Public Schools and the Library of Congress, Linda is a part-time instructor for Ohio State University. Communications to the author may be addressed to her at Columbus Public Schools, 737 East Hudson Street, Columbus, OH 43211; 614/365-5277; ljoseph@iwaynet.net.
 
 

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