Outdoor Education and Gardening
Students learn how to grow and care for plants, feed their bodies with whole foods and work together towards a common goal, while absorbing larger lessons on sustainability and stewardship of the Earth. School gardening inspires awe and respect for nature, nourishes bodies and encourages a lifelong love of learning about the natural world.
The vegetable garden really is the newest classroom – there are no walls, but the science of life and the rhythm of math are everywhere.
The gardening program involves children of all ages at St. Nicholas. Level 2 students seed and care for baby plants in the greenhouse. During the past school year, Level 6 and 7 students calculated the area of the greenhouse to determine the type of ventilation fan needed. Level 5 students transplant seedlings from the greenhouse during their life-cycle study and measure soil temperatures. Level 3 and 4 students care for the herb plants and study the properties of soil.
Students of all levels plant vegetables in the raised beds of the vegetable garden and tend them while they grow. At harvest time, students are able to taste the fruits of their labor – sometimes straight off the plant as with cherry tomatoes. Fresh spinach, lettuce, arugula, radishes and onions are incorporated into salad bar offerings in the St. Nicholas cafeteria. Taste tests are also conducted to expose children to the flavors of the garden, while teaching fresh food preparation. During summer camp, students tasted red, yellow, white, pink, purple and orange carrots to compare the flavors. They also set up a summer “Garden Market” selling summer veggies such as squash, tomatoes, herbs and flower bouquets. The proceeds benefit St. Nicholas outreach efforts like the Community Kitchen.