Earth Day 2024- School Gardens
Posted on 04/24/2024
Earth Day 2024- School GardensChattanooga, Tenn. - On Saturday, April 20, volunteers of all ages—parents, students, teachers, and community members—came together for an event that seamlessly combined the joy of collective effort and the pride of making a tangible difference by developing and creating outdoor student spaces at Red Bank Elementary School (RBES) and Clifton Hills Elementary School. The goal was clear: to transform an empty plot of land at Clifton Hills Elementary and transform an old garden at Red Bank Elementary into thriving gardens that would offer both aesthetic beauty and educational opportunities for years to come.

Schools invited their families and members of the community to visit and participate in the development of these outdoor student spaces. School gardens teach students practical skills and create a sense of belonging and community engagement. They also beautify campus surroundings and serve as a living classroom for students.

School gardens can become a hub of activity and a source of pride for students. They will work together, making the beds, preparing the soil, and planting seeds which they will watch grow. Students will learn about the importance of soil, sunlight, and water in nurturing plants. The gardens also provided a space for students to engage in sensory activities, such as feeling the texture of the soil, smelling flowers, and listening to the sounds of nature.

School gardens can help students who are dealing with high levels of stress. The goal is to create a space for stress relief, emotion regulation, and a calming environment in our schools to support students.

Staff asked students at both schools for input into the spaces as they developed the plans. “We want to incorporate the tradition and culture of our students, especially our newcomers’ families, as many of those students come from an agricultural background…and we want our families to share that knowledge with us,” said Ingrid Seymour, School Social Worker at Clifton Hills.

RBES students asked for a small kitchen clubhouse space in their school garden. Students at RBES use produce from their garden for their culinary classroom to have an immersive experience with other students and their cultures. The garden has allowed the culinary program to make salsa for their Hispanic heritage night out of their garden veggies to connect their learning to the community.

Hamilton County Schools has multiple gardening projects throughout the district some of those projects are at Sale Creek Middle High, The Howard School, and Normal Park.

Thank you to all who came and contributed to these projects. School garden projects embody the district’s commitment to ensuring that “Every Student Belongs” and “Every Community is Served" by creating spaces that encourage learning, collaboration, and environmental responsibility. The gardens bring students together, foster a sense of belonging, and create a strong bond between the school and the community.