May 29, 2009
03:58 PM
Table Talk

Junior gardeners

Students at two of our local elementary schools — Eugene Field Elementary (2249 S. Phoenix Ave.) and Rosa Parks Elementary (13702 E. 46th Place S.) — are able to get their hands dirty during school time without getting in trouble. In fact, they are encouraged to do so!  Heather Oakley founded Global Gardens, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering students and communities through hands-on science education, after a dozen or so years teaching students from Uganda, East Africa, to Harlem, N.Y., where she taught first- to sixth-grade science and piloted two small-scale community garden projects.

Global Gardens encourages the use of the garden as an outlet for the children as well as a meeting place for the community. Every class in each of the schools is responsible for a plot in the garden — from planting to pruning to harvesting, they learn how many of our fruits and veggies actually come to be. There is also an after-school program, where each child can tend his or her own plot. Students truly reap the benefits, by learning what a garden is and how they can use it to better their school and community.

One of my favorite quotes about Global Gardens comes from a fifth-grade student who participates in the program: “If our garden can be a peaceful place, then our school will be peaceful, then our community, then our city, then our state, then maybe our country, then our continent ... and then, who knows, maybe our whole world could be peaceful!” If only we could all feel that way.

Look for the kids from Global Gardens at the Cherry Street Farmers’ Market this summer — they always love to show off their home-, or rather school-grown gems.

For more information, contact Heather Oakley, Global Garden’s founder and executive director, by calling 728-9500 or by visiting

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