Ornamental and produce gardens serve as outdoor classrooms in our partner schools. Specific elements vary from site to site but Opelika Grows school programming adheres to Alabama State Department of Education standards for science. Instruction and activities focus on the management of gardens--covering Plant Physiology, Soil and Amendments, Environmental Conditions, Harvesting and Composting. Instructional activities are designed to provide opportunities to 1) Identify/Classify issues relevant to the lifecycle of plants and related environmental elements, 2) Apply knowledge of content to maintain gardens and 3) Utilize gardens to promote civic engagement.
Southview's second graders make gardening look like child's play.
Enrichment students in grades 3-5, under the direction of Lori Shaw, maintain over 1000 sq ft of vegetable production.
Seasonally, students select which plants to grow. Then, after students maintain their crop for the semester, they harvest and divide their yield between donation to the Community Market and class or school consumption. To date, Southview Primary, Northside Intermediate and Opelika Middle Schools host weekly programming. We are also actively planning with West Forest Intermediate, Morris Avenue Intermediate and the Opelika Learning Center to install gardens and design programming. Installation is set to begin summer 2014.
We identify our gardens as "service-learning gardens" in that participants serve the needs of one aspect of the community while practicing the knowledge and skills each brings to bear. Attendees of instructional activities learn garden related content and civic engagement in efforts that address hunger relief and city beautification. Instructors of garden programming serve the needs of participants for quality instruction while providing themselves the opportunity to practice their profession.
Melanie Montel, Leigh Moore and their 6-8th grade students experiment with agricultural sciences as they tend to ornamental and produce gardens.