School Garden here, School Gardens there

There is more food movement work going on here in Tallahassee than anyone-- including myself-- knows.  Take for instance the number and quality of school gardens here in the Tallahassee area.

Here is a list of the schools at which I know there are school gardens: Hartsfield Elementary, Astoria Park Pre-K, Cornerstone Learning Community, Richards High, Fairview Middle, Nims Middle, Ghazvini Learning Center, SAIL High, Apalachee Elementary, Magnolia Elementary and Middle, School for Arts and Sciences, Grassroots School, Kate Sullivan Elementary, FAMU High, PACE and Roberts Elementary.  Additionally, there are gardens in the works and/or planned at Riley Elementary, Leon High School, Fort Braden, and another garden being dreamed at Astoria Park for the 4th graders.  In no way do I believe this list to be all inclusive; these are just the schools I know and am currently remembering.  *(PS- It should be noted that the Damayan Garden Project has helped start and continues to periodically support several--Nancy George, Damayan Director says "over half,"-- of the gardens in the above list.)*  (If you know of other teachers or schools doing food gardening with their kids, please let me know).

***More School Food Gardens that folks clued me in on via the Man in Overalls Facebook page: Gadsden Head Start, Florida High, Raa Middle, Holy Comforter, Oakridge Elementary, and Trinity Catholic.***

In terms of quality, last week I met with Shannon Gooden, a teacher at Ghazvini Learning Center who will be entirely responsible for the Ghazvini raised-beds and impressive greenhouse.  She shared with me her dream of a "community within the school system of school gardeners" i.e., a network of gardener-teachers designed as a forum in which to collaborate, share ideas and resources, learn from each other, etc; a mutual-aid network of teacher-gardeners.  In attempts to support her vision, I've been touching base with folks here and there that I know (or have heard) are doing school gardens.

Last week, I met with Nims' Mr Williams, who along with Principal Collins, Ms Jones, and Mr Powell is heading up the Nims garden.  I also spoke with Mr Landrum at Hartsfield who in partnership with Ms Elsaka are leading their gardening and agricultural education program that's part of their Hawks after school Program.  Today, I met Mr Brown who is the sponsor of the Phoenix environmental club at Leon.  He plans to start a raised-bed garden with his kids this coming fall. 

Twenty minutes after leaving Leon, I met Ms Dennis, an ESE/EDS teacher at Kate Sullivan.  She's got several raised beds with herbs and flowers.  Her students are growing peppers and tomatoes in old (big) soup cans.  Her visually impaired students are maintaining container gardens with various herbs and other plants.  It's quite the set-up between portables and board-walks.  She was full of stories and great quotes.  As she toured me around her beds, she said, "I can't teach without getting my kids' hands in the dirt."  Around the corner at her prized rosemary plant she told me about the day when one of her "tough, ganster kids" came in and dropped a little baggie on her desk with something suspicious in it. She said, "I was thinking, 'Oh, what is this?' I was worried wondering what I was going to have to deal with...." Things turned out well though: "It was collard seeds.  He wanted to grow greens like his grand-dad."

The point is that there are lots of great folks doing good work.  The extra-exciting part is that we're beginning to discover each other.  It is as though there has been mass-movement of wild-flower seeds planted, we've sprouted, begun to grow and are now beginning to recognize that we're all part of a larger meadow.  Welcome to the food movement.

 (If you know of other teachers or schools doing food gardening with their kids, please let me know).