Students in Sustainability worked side by side with students and parents from San Jose Episcopal Day School recently to jump-start The Giving Garden on the day school’s campus as part of the Green Apple Day of Service. The Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council is the organization behind the Green Apple movement, which encourages community partnership with schools to enhance the sustainability and environments of schools all over the world.
More than 45 volunteers gathered to prepare the land and construct raised garden beds. The Giving Garden will provide students with authentic learning experiences to cultivate a vegetable garden, while applying STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) based principals. The project will involve hands-on experimentation through science classes, natural observation and the pure joy of growing food to eat and give to others in need.
“The overall focus of this project is to give our students a chance to experience the whole process involved with cultivating organic food while interacting with nature,” stated Natalie Inclan, SJEDS science teacher and creator of The Giving Garden. “Our hope is to harvest the food, prepare some fun recipes, and be able to provide food for those in need in our church community. It also gave our students a perspective of how working with nature and the environment can become a lifelong pursuit and a potential major in college.”
Dr. Ashley Johnson, Professor of Geography and Director of Sustainability at Jacksonville University, rallied her students and members of The Green Initiative for Tomorrow Club at JU to give back to the community by inspiring children at SJEDS to think about and work with natural resources and the environment.
“This service project was really neat because it allowed JU students to get out in the community and do something to benefit the elementary kids at SJEDS,” she said. “The college students walked away with deeper connections to the Jacksonville area, and many of them commented on the rewarding feeling they got from helping a local school achieve a goal.”