Minnesota Green Profile: Kimball Elementary

Students at work in the Kimball school garden.

Students at work in the Kimball school garden.

We’re so encouraged by the number of schools taking advantage of the Minnesota Green program. Here’s the story of the students at Kimball Elementary School just west of the Twin Cities. (This article originally appeared in the print edition of Northern Gardener.)

The first seeds of Stearns County’s Kimball Elementary School garden were planted 13 years ago. With the guiding philosophy that children learn best through engagement and exploration, several teachers decided to create a garden to teach about plants, butterflies and bees. Elementary students respond particularly well to outdoor education, because it is hands-on and involves all the senses, says fourth-grade teacher Deb Schmidt. “The garden brings science, math, nature, and art to life, and it gets students excited about learning,” she says.

The students are involved in all phases of the garden: designing, preparing, planting seeds and plants, weeding, watering, fertilizing and harvesting. The garden has wildflowers, perennials, annuals and a few vegetables. “It’s been a wonderful place to explore—discovering seeds sprouting, the life cycle of plants, seasonal cycles—not to mention all those great creepy-crawlies!” says Deb.

The first seeds of Stearns County’s Kimball Elementary School garden were planted 13 years ago. With the guiding philosophy that children learn best through engagement and exploration, several teachers decided to create a garden to teach about plants, butterflies and bees. Elementary students respond particularly well to outdoor education, because it is hands-on and involves all the senses, says fourth-grade teacher Deb Schmidt. “The garden brings science, math, nature, and art to life, and it gets students excited about learning,” she says.

The students are involved in all phases of the garden: designing, preparing, planting seeds and plants, weeding, watering, fertilizing and harvesting. The garden has wildflowers, perennials, annuals and a few vegetables. “It’s been a wonderful place to explore—discovering seeds sprouting, the life cycle of plants, seasonal cycles—not to mention all those great creepy-crawlies!” says Deb.

About 40 students have participated in gardening programs recently, and the teachers hope to increase that number. “It is good for young people to develop gardening skills that they can carry on through their life,” says Deb. A future goal is to get more adults involved; the school needs volunteers for the garden program to continue.

“Our garden has provided an environment in which students along with teachers, parents and volunteers can work together while learning the relationship between people, plants and wildlife,” she says. “These opportunities have been possible because of the generosity of Minnesota Green—that connection has been vital to the success of our garden.”

—By Brenda Harvieux

For more information and to get involved in this garden, contact Deb Schmidt at deb.schmidt@kimball.k12.mn.us.

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