Students at Moravia Park Elementary School in east Baltimore designed and built three garden beds on a small plot of land just steps away from the school building.
In a matter of months, they’ll see the fruits of their labor, having witnessed the powerful process of growing their own food.
Moravia Park Elementary is one of 40 arts integration schools in Baltimore funded by Arts Every Day, a local organization whose mission is to give students access to arts education. Through the organization’s Impact Fund, five partner schools were awarded additional funding to pull off large-scale projects that involve the work of students, staff and the community at large.
Samantha Feld, the school’s arts integration coach, set out to combine her passions of gardening and art and applied for funding to construct the raised garden beds that will soon sprout a bounty of cucumbers, squash, collard greens, kale, spinach, broccoli rabe and medicinal herbs including lavender, sage and thyme.
After a design competition between about 10 kids turned into a collaborative effort, Feld then solicited support from her young participants with help from Seth Wheeler of NorthWind Energy & Earthworks, who helped perfect their designs and led instruction on building methods and materials.
Feld and Wheeler said the students got their hands dirty, and had a blast throughout the journey.
“I’m really excited about them seeing a real world application of art,” Feld said. “Taking what they designed on paper and the process of revising it, and learning about materials and having [the garden beds] as a living, working structure.”
Over time, Feld said the garden will become a community-driven effort. Moravia Park has a high ESOL (English as a Second Language) and refugee population, Feld says, and she hopes to invite local families to find connection at the garden, working with students and tending to plants outside of school hours.
Fostering a sense of pride in cultivating the plants will help encourage an awareness of food among the students, and spark an enthusiasm for making healthy food choices, they said.
“If they grow it they will eat it,” Feld said. “So you can get them to eat all kinds of things that they would otherwise say no to because they put it in the ground, they’ve tended it and they’ve harvested it themselves.”
“Even broccoli,” said Wheeler.
Watch the video above for more.
The official “Unveiling of the Garden” at Moravia Park Elementary will be held Friday, June 2.