Students thrive in outdoor learning environments as their abilities to focus, cooperate, socialize, and gain self-confidence soar. Our school gardens present an incredible opportunity to facilitate educating the whole child while each student learns to integrate math, science, art, health, and social studies with the natural world.
Presently, GUSD contracts with Explore Ecology to hire and train garden educators to serve at each of the nine school sites, all of which currently have gardens. Providing resources for the gardens fall largely on the PTAs at each school, and the amount of money our nine schools can fundraise through PTA significantly varies from school to school. To better educate the whole child, including social-emotional learning, GEF is seeking funds to equitably provide resources for the school gardens.
Schools that serve the highest numbers of low-income students need much more than a few seeds, some shovels, and a truckload of mulch; these gardens need to be relocated to be accessible to all students. This effort involves moving water lines, installing a drip watering system, and building raised beds. The beds require wood and soil, seeds, seedlings, mulch, and gardening tools such as trowels, watering cans, and gloves. To allow the students to fully utilize and appreciate the outdoor learning environment of the garden, sites need gardening tables and flexible seating. Finally, some schools need a gardening shed to better care for and store all of their gardening tools and materials.
In order to adequately bring all of the GUSD school gardens to the same standard of whole child education, GEF is launching a fundraising effort to secure $45,000 in the 2019-2020 school year. Learn more or make a donation at www.GoletaEd.org/whole-child-education.