WI Medical Society Grant Supports NKE Gardening

SaraLubbersEsserClass2014-lowresAn important (and exciting) part of our NKE Arboretum is our vegetable garden area. In our first year, in 2012, we built four large raised vegetable beds that were planted by our fourth-grade classes as part of their life science curriculum. We quickly found that other classes wanted to participate, and as a result we added two additional large beds and other smaller raised planters. These days interested classes sign up to “adopt” part of a bed and plant it as soon as weather allows in spring (thanks go out to our school guidance counselor, Sara Lubbers, for coordinating these efforts!).

Kids at school often say the days they worked in the gardens were their favorite days of the whole year, so as our NKE Arboretum group discussed progress this fall, we brainstormed ways we could expand the gardens’ reach despite our space limitations and Wisconsin climate. Ideas included students starting plants from seed indoors and also creating mini “hoop houses” that are basically little greenhouses covering the raised beds so plants can go in the raised beds earlier in spring and stay growing outside later in the fall. We also discussed the fact that water management is always an issue in the Arboretum (a huge amount of water drains off the school roof into that courtyard) and the possibility of creating a rain garden.

That left the question of how to fund these new efforts, and I have great news on that front: We recently received notice that we have been awarded a $1,000 educational grant from the Wisconsin Medical Society Foundation supporting our school gardening efforts! We’d like to thank the WMSF for recognizing the importance of school gardening on student wellness. With their support, we’ll be able to continue expanding the reach of outdoor education for children at NKE. Keep an eye on our Facebook page at www.facebook/com/NKEArb for updates on progress! And, as always, if you’d like to get involved in any way, please contact NKE Principal Dan Rikli at der@oregonsd.net.

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