Over at Garden Rant Mary Gray’s guest rant bewailed the state of many school grounds, all concrete and lawn. I am very familiar with the school grounds that she describes, but I feel fortunate that the children in our small town have a very different school experience.
The Heath Elementary School, which opened in 1996, was built in a pasture surrounded by woodland. When the school bus pulls off the dirt road onto the driveway it passes a path that leads to the school’s wellhead. This area is well used for science study, with information about the importance of clean water, and how it is kept clean.
The children debark they welcomed by perennials on either side of the entrance.
The school and its grounds are held in the embrace of a woodland, where science can be studied, and the beauties of nature can inspire art classes. Perhaps inspire a poem or essay or two as well.
The meadow fills the circular drive where buses and cars drive up to, and then away from the entry. Right now it looks all neat having just been given a back to school trim, but in the spring it is a hazy blue meadow of lupines, followed by a bouquet of summer wildflowers.
The newest addition to the school landscape is the vegetable garden, punctuated by some bright annuals. This has been producing for three or four years now and the soil gets better every year. There are some apple trees, too. I’d like to be able to tell you that the kids enjoy some of those vegetables at lunch but I am sure, absolutely sure, that they would never break the law which forbids this kind of activity. Isn’t the law interesting? There might be another lesson there.
This school with its gardens doesn’t come about just because it is a small school out in the country. It takes devoted and energetic parents who volunteer time, labor and money, and creative teachers who find a hundred ways to integrate the garden and the landscape into the Mass Curriculum Frameworks. Heath is pretty lucky!