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Back to School Gardening

The students will plant the raised beds over the next few weeks with easy to grow cool season crops like radishes and lettuce. To get the garden growing, Washington Capitals forwards Chris Brown (right with ball cap) and Stanislav Galiev planted one of the raised beds with kid-friendly herbs that are fun to touch, taste and smell like lavender, chocolate mint, German chamomile, rosemary, parsley, lemon thyme, wild watermelon salvia, and chives. Photo by Annie Ceccarini, USDA.

The students will plant the raised beds over the next few weeks with easy to grow cool season crops like radishes and lettuce. To get the garden growing, Washington Capitals forwards Chris Brown (right with ball cap) and Stanislav Galiev planted one of the raised beds with kid-friendly herbs that are fun to touch, taste and smell like lavender, chocolate mint, German chamomile, rosemary, parsley, lemon thyme, wild watermelon salvia, and chives. Photo by Annie Ceccarini, USDA.

46,000 young people were welcomed back to DC Public Schools this morning for the 2014-2015 school year. And 168 students at Dr. Charles R. Drew Elementary School have a brand new school garden to get excited about! USDA’s People’s Garden team assisted Monumental Sports & Entertainment Foundation, which supports the charitable efforts of the Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards, with laying the groundwork for this project.

More than 100 volunteers painted, cleaned and gardened at Drew ES for DC Public Schools Beautification Day. The Red Rockers and Wizard Girls cheered on 30 USDA Executive Master Gardeners and a dozen Washington Capitals, Mystics and Wizards fans as they built a brand new school garden in the rain. The rainy weather did not dampen their commitment to help produce Washington’s healthiest next generation and in less than 3 hours the school garden was complete.

This marks the third time the People’s Garden Initiative has teamed up with the Washington Capitals to bring a school garden to a DC public school. In 2011 we designed and installed a habitat garden and outdoor learning area at Powell Elementary School and in 2012 expanded an existing food garden at Thurgood Marshall Elementary School.

Remember as summer vacation comes to an end, gardening doesn’t have to. In fact, fall is the ideal time to plant native plant species to attract wildlife. Consider starting a schoolyard wildlife habitat, a food garden, or both at your school. School gardens offer opportunities for fun and physical activity while serving as an important educational tool to help students understand how healthy food is produced and to connect with the natural world around them.

Before you start a school garden, read and download these step-by-step guides, which offer important information about how to safely grow your own fruits and vegetables with your students from Let’s Move and learn how to start a schoolyard wildlife habitat from National Wildlife Federation.

The garden is fenced with six raised beds that will be used by the school garden club to grow food and to create meaningful learning experiences for the students. Photo by Annie Ceccarini, USDA.

The garden is fenced with six raised beds that will be used by the school garden club to grow food and to create meaningful learning experiences for the students. Photo by Annie Ceccarini, USDA.

4 Responses to “Back to School Gardening”

  1. lann says:

    Wonder if wild watermelon salvia is similar to Honeydew or pineapple Salvia?

  2. Ben [USDA Moderator] says:

    @lann – thank you for your comment. Salvia mircophylla ‘Wild Watermelon’ (commonly called Little Leaf Sage), Salvia elegans (commonly called Pineapple Sage) and Salvia elegans ‘Honey Melon’ (commonly called Honey Melon Sage) are all in the mint family. All of these plants have fragrant tubular shaped flowers that attract pollinators like hummingbirds. One major difference is that Wild Watermelon Salvia has large pink (watermelon colored) flowers. The blooms of Pineapple Sage and Honey Melon Sage are red.

  3. Shirley Bass says:

    This is great information; the link to “Let’s Move” is very helpful and something I’m going to try with my children. It is a way for them to be involved while also teaching them about healthy food and the importance of the wildlife habitat. I thought you might find this video a great addition for your readers; it’s about teaching children in the inner city how to grow their own food by using raised garden beds. It’s a great segment! http://bit.ly/1zu5kPp

  4. Raymond says:

    That is nice of you’ll to share with the students at Drew it is a lot of people in that neighborhood with garden’s maybe some of those children will stay away from trouble by taking what you are showing them and help out some of the people in the neighborhood with weeding and planting or set up a little stand in the summer or share the bounties with some of the food banks close by.

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