Head-Royce News

TEACHING & LEARNING: Garden as a Classroom


Hear from a lower school student, Bryce C. '25 about what it's like to learn in the garden
 

If you come to the Head-Royce campus and stand on the gatehouse patio, you will likely hear the sounds of laughter and play coming from the School garden. At first glance, the Head-Royce garden seems like a place for children to play in nature (and it is!), but it’s a place where learning takes place, too. 

“Our students learn about eco-literacy, planetary stewardship, how environments work, and the interconnectedness between organic systems and themselves. All of these concepts require hands-on time in the Garden, which is an integral part of the whole-child learning experience,” Susan Anderson, Garden Manager said.

Each grade in the Lower School spends time in the garden at least once a week, with the option of added time during recess and free-time. They learn about the various elements required to grow food, soil, and cultures through the animals, insects, and worms that help maintain the integrity of the garden ecosystem, which is free of toxic chemicals.

The School garden has its own unique life cycle, as the food grown on campus stays within the walls of Head-Royce. Students help plant, grow, and eat the fruits and vegetables grown on site. Food that is currently grown in the garden includes perennial tree collards, peas, carrots, tamarillos (tree tomatoes), and kale. In addition, hundreds of pounds of pre-consumer food waste is recovered from the Cafe to make rich organic compost, which in turn, is used to fertilize and build soil nutrition in the garden, and beyond. 

“I’ve learned about compost and that once it turns into soil we can use it to help grow vegetables and fruit right here in the garden,” Bryce C. ’25 said.

Garden education is also integrated into the curricula in our other divisions. All sixth graders visit the garden for hours of service learning, and students in AP Environmental Science conduct in-depth, real-world soil and land-use experiments. In addition, the rich and vibrant garden environment has made its way into the hearts and minds of students across the campus in other ways. 

“Photography students come to the garden to take photographs; and history, English, biology, mathematics, science, and even language classes work on various projects in the context of the garden setting,” Anderson said.

Approaching its 10th anniversary, the garden program focuses on teaching low-impact, environmentally responsible principles in order to maintain and support the health of the environment - both locally and globally. It also offers students the opportunity to explore and understand the various processes that produce the food we eat - from farm to table and back again!

Bird's Eye View is a story series highlighting our work towards the initiative and goals laid out in our Strategic Plan: Bridge to 2020.
 

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