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Perspective: Arden Bucklin-Sporer on School Gardens

By WorldLink Staff | August 15, 2012 | Leave a Comment

Growing a garden takes hard work, persistence, and a willingness to learn. Arden Bucklin-Sporer discusses the educational value of school gardens.

Arden is executive director of the San Francisco Green Schoolyard Alliance, an advocacy organization for school gardens and outdoor classrooms. She is the director of educational gardens for the San Francisco Unified School District, and a founding partner of Bay Tree Design, a landscape architecture firm.

What does a successful school garden program look like?

Arden Bucklin-Sporer: A successful school garden has many pillars of support and is used frequently — day in, day out. It’s supported by the principal and used by a variety of teachers, and kids flow in and out. All this activity is managed by a garden coordinator, who acts like an air traffic controller. Parents host weekend work parties to build the more complex garden structures. End-of-the-year celebrations might take place there. All the sustainability efforts of the school, such as composting or water use, are modeled in the garden. It’s really a hub for community building.

How do school gardens help expand students’ understanding of the story of their food?

Arden Bucklin-Sporer: Astonishingly, we no longer really understand where our food comes from. Most of our food is a plant’s bud, flower, or root. It’s something we’ve forgotten about for a couple of generations. Illustrating these concepts in a garden is revelatory for people. You see the “a-ha!” moments, when they really understand what part of the plant their food comes from and the purpose of that biology. A school garden serves as a living laboratory to demonstrate the principles of sustainability.

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