On May 12, Gurney Elementary School hosted an event celebrating the installation of a Captain Planet Foundation Project Learning Garden. In 2019, Mrs. Albrecht, first-grade teacher, applied for and was awarded a grant from The Captain Planet Foundation, Dole Packaged Foods and Heinen’s for a Project Learning Garden.
“Both Dole Packaged Foods and Heinen’s are committed to educating children on the benefits of consuming more fruits and vegetables,” said Principal Rachel Jones, Gurney Elementary School. “Both academic research and over 25 years experience in schools across the country have demonstrated that school children increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables when given opportunities to engage in these types of learning gardens. Children learn to make decisions that carry over outside of school, providing a platform for a lifetime of healthy snack and meal choices. We are so fortunate here at Gurney to have our very own learning garden.”
The Project Learning Garden from the Captain Planet Foundation, which includes five raised garden beds, provides great opportunities for multidisciplinary and hands-on teaching and learning. Gurney’s teachers will be able to create real-life applications for many math, social studies, language arts and science units while engaging students in the new garden. Students will get to do some taste testing of new foods, learn more about healthy foods, conduct investigations, and learn what it takes to best support plant life. The garden will also inspire many creative writing and art activities. The Learning Garden includes a mobile cooking cart and many recipes for using foods grown in this garden to engage students in cooking activities.
The Gurney Student Garden Club, run by Mrs. Albrecht and Mrs. Goodin, third-grade teacher, will experience leadership opportunities related to maintaining the garden and supporting all classes with information, resources and guidance for the use of the garden. At the event, students enjoyed planting their first seedlings and then also making salads at the mobile cooking cart for all guests to taste. In addition to Captain Planet Foundation, Dole Foods and Heinen's providing the garden and mobile cooking cart, the school consulted with Jeff Griff from Lowe's Greenhouse to learn more about what could be done to make sure these gardens are set up to last a long time, be manageable year-round, and be safe. Griff created plans for the outdoor location that included creating a fenced-in area, gravel base outside of the garden boxes and an irrigation system.
“In addition, because of the amazing generosity of funds, time and energy from Chagrin Falls Education Foundation, Chagrin Falls Dads' Club and Chagrin Pet, Garden and Power Equipment, we were able to make all of this happen so that the Learning Garden from the Captain Planet Foundation will be part of our Gurney students' programming for many years to come. From the gravel base to the irrigation system and fencing, these groups have truly helped us turn this area into a lasting, outdoor learning opportunity for all of Gurney Elementary School,” said Jones.