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from the employee owners at Gardener's Supply Co.

Service and Sustainability

Gardener’s Supply is in business to spread the joys and rewards of gardening. One of the ways we do that is working with groups that teach young people to garden, such as the Green Education Foundation and, locally, at the Sustainability Academy, an elementary school here in Burlington, VT.

Sustainability Academy by Andy Duback

Planting a new garden at the Sustainability Academy. Photos by Andy Duback

Gardener’s Supply is in business to spread the joys and rewards of gardening. One of the ways we do that is by working with groups that teach young people to garden, such as the Green Education Foundation and, locally, at the Sustainability Academy, an elementary school here in Burlington, VT.

Sue Blair, a kindergarten teacher at the Sustainability
Academy at Lawrence Barnes Elementary School
, tells the story of a recent project:

Reflections on a Day of Service

On May 10, students at the Sustainability Academy, along with teachers, parents, neighbors and community members participated in our second annual Day of Service. It was powerful to see every student participating in service-learning projects:
painting murals, building compost piles, cleaning up the campus, planting an
ABC garden, building bat houses, painting
rain barrels, replanting peace gardens
and more.

For my Kindergarten class, the day
of service was our culminating activity in
our year-long theme and study of
community helpers. It also reflected a
shift in my teaching. I wanted students to
own their work, and make deeper interdisciplinary
curriculum connections. I
wanted students to know that their ideas
mattered.

By modifying Shelburne
Farms’ curriculum framework, Healthy
Neighborhoods/Healthy Kids
, we moved our study of
community from the classroom to the
neighborhood. First, we drew maps of
our neighborhood and identified the
names of some of the streets near the
school and their homes. Then, we met
with community helpers who work hard
to make our neighborhood a safe, happy,
and healthy place for all to live. Finally,
we began to think about how each child
could be a community helper.

Students decided it was important for our
neighborhood and schoolyard to have
animals and plants, to be clean, and to
have safe places for kids to play. Students
were interested in assessing and
improving these aspects of our neighborhood
and school community. Students
then went on neighborhood walks to
evaluate if the
neighborhood and
schoolyard were
clean, had animals
and plants, and safe
places to play. Following
the walks, students
brainstormed
projects the class
could do on the Day of Service to meet
the needs that they had uncovered on
their walks.

Students planned the following projects:

  • Create a
    shade garden to provide a habitat
    for animals
  • Build two sandboxes
    for kids to play in
  • Organize a neighborhood
    clean-up.

The projects were completed
on our Day of Service and the students
were thrilled at the difference they made
in our community. The sandboxes and gardens will make our schoolyard a better place for humans and animals, but the most important transformation is the students’ emerging
awareness that they can make a difference.

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous
    August 31, 2011    

    Sounds like a great lesson to learn early. Kudos to everyone involved!

  2. August 31, 2011    

    Very nice. Thanks for sharing.

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We are an employee-owned company of avid gardeners, located in Burlington, VT.