The inspiration for this project came from years of staring out of my classroom window at a bleak manicured lawn with few trees and a desire to educate my students about the native plants that are found all around them.
Therefore, I created a class to design and implement a native plant garden and a small vegetable garden upon the school grounds. This year the class consists of six girls from grades 10 through 12. I am guiding the students, but the students are in charge of the project this includes one of the first steps we took which was setting the goals for the project. Our main goal is to build and maintain a visually appealing and instructive vegetable and native plant garden. In doing this, we will educate our class, teachers, schoolmates, and other people involved in our school on gardening in our environment, as well as on native plants. In conjunction with education, we would like to involve all these people in our project in various ways. For example, the drafting classes in our school could design and manufacture benches and local community members could participate in the planting of the native plants. Another of our goals is that this project will inspire people to become active in their community and to learn more about where they live. Finally, because our class is made up of only girls, it is our goal that this project will empower other women to take leading roles in community and environmental projects. To accomplish these goals we have already surveyed staff and students about potential use of the gardens, consulted a local landscape architect, researched native plants, designed environmental education lessons to educate younger students, developed rough plants for the native plant garden, and started planting native plant seeds in our greenhouse.
In the future we plan to consult more local experts in landscape design and irrigation, continue growing plants in the greenhouse, develop a more finalized native garden plan, and develop a plan for a small vegetable garden. Then, by the end of the school year, we plan to install both the native plant and vegetable gardens, so that they can both be used and enjoyed by the students, staff and community.