Best School Garden
Vote for one of the nominees below. The nominees include any public or private school garden, elementary through high school, across the larger DC metropolitan region, including Northern Virginia and Maryland.
Capital City Public Charter School
Capital City is a public charter school in Ward 4 of Washington, DC with a large, on-site, beautiful school garden. We have worked closely with students, teachers, parents, and many local partners to create an inclusive garden space that welcomes the participation of all members of our community. All of our students, who come from every Ward of the District and represent a wide range of ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds (72% low-income; 50% Latino, 37% Black, 7% White, 2% Asian, 4% Multiracial), have the opportunity to engage in fun, educational, age-appropriate activities with the garden. Our school garden program uses an environmentally friendly approach and aims to foster students’ connection to the environment within an urban setting by exposing them to nature on a daily basis. All garden areas are managed ecologically with a focus on organic gardening methods. A huge focus of our school garden program is for students to independently seek out healthy, local and seasonal food options when making food decisions. As a PreK-12th grade school, we have the opportunity to engage students in garden stewardship for upwards of 14 years, developing their gardening skills, knowledge of local foods, and engagement with the natural environment. Our PreK students, for example, learn through a PreK demonstration garden how to identify different plants in each of its growing stages. They also learn how to identify beneficial insects and pests. Our school garden helps Capital City achieve its mission of graduating young adults who are self-directed, intellectually engaged and possess a commitment to personal and civic responsibility. Our students become environmental stewards, thanks in part to the knowledge, skills, and experiences they had with our school garden.
Janney garden allows engagement with students in the garden as space for learning and appreciating nature's beauty. Janney's garden program permeates every aspect of school life. Kids play there during recess, nurture plants through the life cycle in science class, get more in depth exposure in the after school Garden Guardians and Garden Builders programs, and sell their harvest at a weekly farmer's market. It is a community effort, with families pitching in to tend it during the summer. Janney's chickens occasionally roam the garden looking for grubs, and its bee colony is supported by flowers from the garden. Janney's garden is thoughtfully and very competently imagined and maintained by its science teachers, but their real strength is the degree to which they engage Janney's students, who plant seeds, haul bags of mulch, pull weeds, collect eggs from the chickens, sell the fruits of their labors in the market, and even build the structures in the garden; ultimately building a strong sense of ownership and pride.
Potomac Crescent Waldorf School
"Ground was broken for Strawberry Moon Garden at Potomac Crescent Waldorf School in Alexandria, VA by hand in October 2016. We are an urban Waldorf school and wanted our students to experience 'hands on learning" and by doing so learn about the living nature of seed to harvest. We started literally from scratch. The 1/2" layer of grass and beneath it clay and small stones needed complete transformation. Biodynamic Agriculture and it's practices began in 1920 by Rudolph Steiner. We created our own Biodynamic compost from vegetation, manures and mulched leaves brought by our parents to our compost bin. We applied for and received small grants from Johnny's Seeds and Home Depot for fencing and compost bin building materials. Parents, students and teachers built the compost bin, installed fencing and attended water conservation workshops given by Alexandria's Water Conservation Dept outfitting two pickle barrels into rain barrels. Students are collecting rain water in two rain barrels and learning in math class how much water can be collected from one inch of rain. During summer camp we pickled zucchini, stir fried vegetables in a wok over a propane gas camp stove, and sold produce and flowers at pick up time. The garden is self sustaining due to the proceeds from selling our produce for our next planting season. It is our hope in the 2017-18 school year to collaborate with the city of Alexandria's Food Bank program by providing fresh produce for needy families."