Learning Garden

After a lot of work our learning garden finally opened in 2016! With your help we’re continuing to grow and improve it every year.

Windermere Elementary School has joined hundreds of schools across the country to make a difference by educating children and adults about health, wellness and sustainability through our learning garden. Learning gardens allow children to explore a part of the natural world which they might not get much exposure to in their daily lives. They can also help develop a wide range of both academic and life skills. By planting Florida natives children can learn about our state’s original ecology. There are many benefits of garden-based learning programs!

Our learning garden program is a restricted fund. Money raised for the learning garden through sponsorship or donations will only be used for the learning garden program.

Learning Garden Facebook PageExternal Link

Learning Garden BlogExternal Link

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Student Consent

If you would like your children to be able to taste herbs and vegetables grown in the Learning Garden you can consent during student registration at the start of the school year. Produce from the learning garden will sometimes be supplemented with food from local farms and markets.

Volunteer Opportunities

In order to make the most of our learning garden we need lots of volunteer help. Some of the areas we need volunteers for are:

  • Grant writing.
  • Volunteer coordinator.
  • Vendors, farmers, local chefs, and other guest speakers.
  • Garden maintenance and upkeep.
  • Ordering plants and supplies.
  • Coordinator for composting and worm composting.

These are just some ways to work together efficiently towards a productive learning garden. Some of these tasks are things that can be done from home and others are hands-on in the garden and school. We need your help in and out of the garden!

If you would like to join the garden team please contact [email protected].

Learning Garden Activities

These are just a few of the potential educational activities the Learning Garden can be used for.

Plant Dyes
There is a rich history of dyeing fabrics with natural plant dyes. Students can explore dyeing with plant extracts and compare that to dyeing using heat or a mordant. Of course, first they need to research what to plant in their dye garden! There are many different Florida native platns suitable for gardening and dyeing. Dock, goldenrod, and onion (papers) yield yellows and browns; azalea leaves, spinach, and carrot leaves green; blackberries purple; spiderwort and elderberries blue; bayberry and sumac grey.

Data Collection
Throughout the school year students can track observational data on the state of the Learning Garden. By recording when different plants develop their leaves, buds, flowers, and blooms or fruit, they will learn about the life-cycle of the garden’s plants, and provide information for gardeners in the next school year.
At the beginning of the calendar year students can start plants from seed and then transplant them into the Learning Garden. They can help decide what to germinate and plant based on the needs of other Learning Garden activities later in the year.

Students can create hypertufa simulated stone containers for container gardening. Hypertufa looks like aggregate rock, is lightweight, and can be formed into a variety of shapes. Making hypertufa is messy but simple and fun.

Flower Arrangements
Making a fresh flower arrangement is an easy and rewarding way to bring a bit of the outdoors into the classroom.

Petal Beads
Children can discover a Native American craft by making beads out of flower petals. Roses, or some similar flowers, are made into a paste using a metate (or a blender ☺) and then rolled into beads. The beads are threaded onto piece of wire so they will dry with a hole for threading.

Each year students can evaluate the successes and failures in the Learning Garden. Did things turn out as expected? What succeeded? What was missing? This information can be used to make proposals for the next year’s activities.
Dried Flowers
Drying flowers is an easy but satisfying activity which can feed into other activities such as making potpourri or satchets.

Flowers and leaves with essential oils can retain their scent long after they are dried. With the right plants students can make potpourri for their classrooms. Clover, trefoil, mint, yarrow, goldenrod, sweetpea, or practically any wildflower makes a lovely potpourri ingredient.

After they have made potpourri children can use those aromatics to make sweet-smelling satchets. Alternately, catnip is easy to grow, and those with pet cats will enjoy taking a catnip satchet home.