Summer training for school garden leaders yields new growth

Last month garden coordinators from Santa Cruz City schools attended an in-depth training program at the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Sonoma County. The experience was made possible by grants from the Santa Cruz Education Foundation.

Life Lab coordinators Susan Dahlgren (Gault) and Jane Forbes (Westlake) spent several days working with experienced garden educators collaborating on new interactive nutrition and food web lessons. In addition to drawing inspiration form others in their fields (pun intended), they were also introduced to new plants that are easy to grow in a school garden setting and delicious for kids to eat.

Both garden leaders will bring specific lessons back to their respective schools. “The inspiration, teaching ideas, and gardening experience at OAEC along with networking and lesson sharing was invaluable. We’ll be able to apply much of what we learned to our respective sites,” Susan Dahlgren shared. “The nutrition relay lesson and an updated  food web lesson are learning experiences I will share with my students.  They are hands-on, fun, standards-based science lessons that engage students in a meaningful way.”

Jane Forbes found the experience revitalizing. “I was reminded of why I do this job. It is to connect students to their world, not only to food, nutrition, wellness, science, gardening, hands on learning etc, but to life. I want to help them build a link to the outdoors, and a appreciation that they can carry with them as they go through life. I want to teach them that we are all connected.”

Heirloom beans compatible with our climate

Heirloom beans compatible with our climate

Nutrition relay lesson

Nutrition relay lesson

Seed collecting with screens

Seed collecting with screens

Susan Dahlgren making salad from the garden

Susan Dahlgren making salad from the garden

Jane Forbes harvesting peruvian nasturtiums

Jane Forbes harvesting peruvian nasturtiums

Learning about preparing garden beds

Learning about preparing garden beds

Susan gets composting tips

Susan gets composting tips

Lesson plan workshop

Lesson plan workshop