Interdisciplinary Enrichment with a Side of Veggies

By FoodCorps Service Member Susie Burton

Over the past month or so, I’ve had the pleasure of working once a week with a small group from a third grade class.  These kiddos are high-achieving in math, and their teacher wanted them to have an opportunity for enrichment outside the classroom walls.

Cue the school garden.

Garden-based education is particularly well suited for long-term, interdisciplinary projects.  This is fairly obvious when you think about it: plants take weeks and months to grow, so there’s ample opportunity for engagement throughout the semester or school year.

As a service member, I don’t have my own classroom full of students and I’m really not able to plan long-term, multi-step curricula.  The garden is a fantastic place for one-time lessons, but the real potential in garden-based education is for students to continually engage with the garden, taking ownership of the space and learning through real-world experience.

That’s why I’m so excited to work with this group of 3rd grade students, once a week for the rest of the school year.  They’ve adopted a bed in our school garden, and have used their math (area, geometry, line plots, fractions), science (parts and needs of plants, scientific habits of mind), ELA (recording and reporting information), and group communication skills to plant and maintain it.  We hope to harvest at the end of the school year and have the students prepare a snack for their classmates, to practice fractions and measurement, to practice real-life cooking skills, and to learn the joy of feeding and serving others.  We also hope the students will be able to present about their project to others in the school community, to practice their public speaking skills and to encourage pride in their own hard work.

Enjoy some photos from our project so far, and stay tuned for updates!


Plotting out square feet



Working together to set up our bed for square foot planting



Deciding what to plant



Putting our heads together



Our garden diagram to scale–we have some sure bets (carrots, turnips, radishes) and some experiments (watermelon)



This is a student-driven project–they take responsibility for every part of the process, from planning to planting



Finally warm enough to break some ground



Using line plots to keep track of what we have planted


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