So, since January 2014, I have been volunteering at my daughter’s school, working with the students to plan, plant from seed, and transfer their edibles and florals into their organic garden right there on the school grounds. This project has been more rewarding for me and my family than I ever could have imagined. As part of attending Magnolia Montessori Charter School in Lakeland, FL each family is required to contribute 20 volunteer hours to the school each year. My background with our hydroponic micro-farm and art education naturally led me to want to volunteer in the school garden.

Each week I take small groups to the garden to write in their garden journals, complete discovery and sensory lessons, as well as learning how to identify, classify, and take care of the garden.

Montessori education focuses on child lead curriculum and self discovery, so the garden is the perfect environment for students to journal, experiment, research, and tap into sensory skills.

http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu has been a great reference for our school garden. IFAS offers Florida planting guides, pest management suggestions, soil testing, composting info, companion planting, etc.

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Currently the students are growing broccoli, corn, bush beans, herbs, sunflowers, kale, lettuces, squash, potatoes, strawberries, zucchini, collard greens, and tomatoes.

 Just before spring break, the students held their first produce sale!  During carline parents pulled over and purchased the organic produce that students harvested from the school garden.  The students handled everything from harvesting, to bagging, pricing, making signs, manning the stand, and counting change.  It was so cute to see how proud they were to sell produce that they had nurtured and grown themselves from seed.  They used the proceeds to go towards purchasing a hydroponic growing system for the school, with plans to expand.

To find out more on how to start a garden at your school visit Florida Ag in the Classroom: www.faitc.com  .They have information about gardening grants, container gardening, raised beds, soil testing, composting, in-ground organic gardening, hydroponics, etc.

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