Before: San Carlos Park Elementary garden area

Courtyard facing west.

This is where we will be building a vegetable garden, in the courtyard.

The first idea was to have one raised bed made of concrete blocks that the students will paint. But then I got creative: let’s make eight smaller gardens in different shapes, made of different materials. I can imagine every classroom coming out to visit this area to see and learn about shapes (math), cells, insects, climate (biology). Other dirt-under-the-fingernails lessons will be food production and nutrition (more science).

We will make room for flowers to attract pollinators. Warm colors on one side, cool colors on the other. Art class, have a ball out here!

On the west end we will plant fruit trees that will bear soon (papaya, bananas, Barbados cherry, pineapples, dwarf mango). Dividing the areas will be “green” walls planted with mints made of pallets to contain compost.

It’s my nature to jump into things with both feet and go all-out. But I know that a garden requires work to build and plant and water and weed. We have a 7000 square foot “canvas” work with but I have scaled down the planting area to 700 square feet including mulched pathways and stepping-stones.

As I was measuring, a teacher guided her students past and asked them “Is he measuring area or volume?” They are learning even before the garden is built.