When most Central Oregon schools were closed back in November due to COVID-19, we didn’t know if any teacher was going to apply for our annual garden grants. But when the deadline came and went, we were thrilled to see more applications than ever before. We worked with local partners to fully fund a majority of the projects. In total, $14,500 was awarded to 13 projects. Additionally, some projects from 2019 that were put on hold spring 2020 were able to be completed this past spring. Here are some highlights from our garden grant reports teachers recently submitted:
Indoor Growing Classrooms
- Step Up in Redmond turned a basement space into an indoor seed starting classroom to grow plants during the winter months, and start seeds for their greenhouse. Their biggest lesson was needing a team behind the effort, creating visual reminders for watering, and that it’s ok to start seeds again.
Outdoor Cooking Classrooms
- REALMS in NW Bend built a Cob Oven Outdoor Classroom project. Inspired by COVID-19 and the desire to create more spaces to teach, learn and celebrate outside, students and staff began building this project during limited in person instruction and finished this spring. They’ve already baked bread, cookies and pizza and it will continue to be a warm outdoor classroom during colder months.
Outdoor School Gardens
- High Desert Middle School in SE Bend was approved to site a greenhouse back in 2019. With grant funds they purchased the greenhouse kit, and were finally able to get their life skills students engaged in clearing the site, foundation/platform building, and building the structure itself this spring. They started classroom seedlings and are excited to fully utilize the greenhouse next school year.
- Three Rivers School in Sunriver was finally able to plant in their outdoor garden beds, a project established before Covid but finally brought to fruition. The garden wellness team continue to stay focused on a dream of a greenhouse in their courtyard eventually.
- Wildheart Kindercamp transformed a dirt mound into a thriving garden classroom with the help of the children. “Our gardens most loyal caretaker is our 3 year old student who greets the strawberry patch every morning!”
- Elk Meadow Elementary School in SW Bend filled most of their beds with perennials and the kids got to prep, plant, and continue to care for the plants. They utilized the garden as a classroom one day a week in the spring and focused on learning topics like basic gardening 101, worms as garden partners, plant parts, pollination and pollinators, seeds and germination, and beginning botany. “Thank you so much for money that has bought weeks of learning, fun and laughter. The kids are very much invested in their garden, and it is now a space that they feel truly belongs to them. I have NEVER loved teaching so much. A full day, outside, in the garden with dirt and water and plants? Pure joy!!!! Thank you so much!!!!”
- Skyline High School in NE Bend transformed an empty concrete pad into a courtyard garden area to grow edibles and flowers, to create a space for students to enjoy an outdoor venue that lent itself to community and learning. Over 100 students from botany, art studio and wood shop classes planned, built and planted 15 raised beds and a trellis.
- Powell Butte Community Charter School improved their school garden outdoor classroom space with the addition of large sturdy shade sails to make the outdoor classroom space usable as the days got warmer.