Kudos to EarthBox and P.S. 107 for publishing this about the EarthBoxes in the school's garden in Brooklyn. Read the following particularly if you are a parent, educator or administrator involved with the education of urban children.
It would be good to get Mayor Bloomberg to visit and learn that there's more to urban gardening education then publicity events with Rachael Ray. I have nothing but praise for what Rachael is doing but dirt gardening is not likely the future of fresh food in the city.
Gardening in the ground is more of a throwback to a bygone time in rural America. Modern methods such as sub-irrigated planter systems are much more appropriate to urban life in the 21st century.
The use of sub-irrigated planters (SIPs) in the P.S. 107 school garden is a living and growing example of a more modern approach to urban food production be it in a school yard, on a rooftop, a paved driveway or on a balcony.
SIPs put urban food production directly in the hands of individuals of all ages and incomes whatever the color of their thumbs may be.
The concrete schoolyard at P.S. 107 in Brooklyn, New York has been transformed into a robust vegetable garden! Teachers and parent volunteers began the EarthBox project together last summer.
Michele Israel, Co-Chairman of the PTA Garden Committee, describes the evolution of the project: "Although P.S. 107, an urban public elementary school in Park Slope, is two blocks from Prospect Park, most of its students live in apartments and have no access to hands-on gardening opportunities.
"The school's Sunshine Garden has changed that! Envisioned and created by parents, students, teachers, and other school personnel, this edible garden, sitting in the school's sparse concrete courtyard, is a humble yet influential fruit and vegetable garden, designed to enhance over 480 Pre-K-5th graders' engagement with science, nutrition, and the environment.
"We began using EarthBoxes last summer, when we had to empty our raised beds in preparation for window replacement. We wanted to continue gardening, so we purchased 12 organic EarthBox kits for our larger, sunnier schoolyard. Our garden last summer was incredible... probably due to the combination of direct sunlight and the EarthBox ingredients and construction.
We grew eggplant, tomatoes, three types of basil, rosemary, thyme, parsley, beets, peppers, chives, sage, pole beans, and string beans. "We have since purchased six additional EarthBoxes, as we now have 13 teachers gardening, including seed starting in the classroom.
These boxes are perfect for personalizing the classroom gardening experience. They also nurture plants amazingly well...they stay moist, are easy to water, easy to manage. They are very child-friendly. For us, the organic boxes have been terrific."
These experiences have broadened students' agricultural and environmental literacy, and have encouraged healthier food choices in school and at home. The garden is the cornerstone of Harvest Day, P.S. 107's celebration of gardening, fresh produce, and nutritious food, culminating in a school lunch that includes garden bounty. This year, the school has received two grants to support a garden-based environmental exploration project. Students will use the garden to examine environmental challenges that impact growing. Through research, interaction with specialists, and classroom study, students will examine the issue and then propose ways to address it. It's a fine mix of gardening, greening, and environmental advocacy (a much-needed civic engagement on the part of the students). For information on starting an EarthBox school project of your own, just click here or contact our Education Department at 1-800-821-8838, ext 8348 or 8369.