312 Gibson Rd, Woodland, CA 95695
Marilyn Folker, teacher volunteer
When Marilyn Folker reestablished the Gibson garden in March this year, it was as if she were starting from scratch. There had been empty planter boxes and weeds. She used the grant funds on more planter boxes, soil, seeds, and seedlings in preparation for planting carrots, lettuce, squash, beans, broccoli and other edibles. In addition to those items, gardening tools were purchased: rakes, shovels, trowels, watering cans, and hoses for watering. Andy Codd showed Marilyn how to set up an irrigations system and provided valuable resources to get going.
As the garden progressed, students were able to eat the ‘fruits of their labor’, as well as to be responsible for its success by weeding, controlling pests, and harvesting.
Science classes now use the garden to conduct hands-on experiments and activities, which teach science concepts such as plant cells, plant growth, weather, and life cycles. Additionally, the garden helps develop students’ writing skills as they record their garden observations, predictions, and outcomes. The teachers integrate the garden into the California Common Core standards in all curricular areas across all grade levels in order to expose all students to healthful food choices.
What is the greatest impact of the garden? “To me, it’s the difference in kids’ behavior. In the classroom, behavior-problematic kids changed dramatically and in positive ways: they are responsible, proud of their work!” said Marilyn Folker, garden coordinator. “We want students to have a deeper understanding of where their food comes from and the nutritional value of locally grown produce. Students try nutritious produce when they grow it themselves.”
One of Gibson’s goals to creating an edible, sustainable garden is to expand the existing garden beds to a sunnier location where vegetables can flourish. The K-6 teachers, students, community volunteers, parents, and PTA are involved in the process of building the additional garden boxes in a central area of the school—which will also be more visible to students and parents. The timetable for expanding and moving the garden will be during the summer. The garden committee will solicit parent, student and community volunteers to build and sustain their garden throughout the school year, including during the summer.
~by Beth Harrison, Yolo Farm to Fork Executive Director