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Story Submission

Submitted By

April Zajko

Concord, VT, United States

Description

Pollinator Garden

Category

Habitat Helpers

Start Small, Dream Big, Take ACTION!

At the Concord School we have an small dedicated garden team, and our motto this year has been: Start Small, Dream Big, Take ACTION. With the help of the BirdSleuth Grant we were able to create two garden spaces on our school campus. As you drive up to the school you are now greeted by a pollinator garden filled with perennial native flowers. This garden is nestled in between five newly planted apple trees in the hopes that the pollinators who visit the flowers will help increase our apple yield for years to come. The second garden site is tucked away in the forest behind the school in our ECO Classroom. Educating Children Outdoors (ECO) is an important part of our preschool program and the four raised beds will increase students’ opportunities to interact with plants. One bed is dedicated to blueberries, the second bed is filled with annual flowers that are good pollinators, the third bed is dedicated to vegetables that aren’t harvested until fall, and the fourth bed is a “Tea Garden”. The Tea Garden is filled with perennial herbs that will make fragrant and flavorful teas for the children and staff to enjoy. The installation of these gardens is a first step to fostering biodiversity on our campus and has inspired us to consider other ways that we can create a schoolyard habitat that benefits both the children and the animals in our community. The middle school teacher implemented lessons from the Habitat Connections, and the middle school students created easier versions of the lessons and presented the information to the preschoolers. The favorite activity was the obstacle course lesson which we set up in our gymnasium by the middle school students and our youngest students got to experience all of the challenges that birds face as they migrate. This student teaching student model also proved fruitful in the garden as the older buddies assisted the younger children in getting the garden site ready, building the raised beds, tilling the soil, carrying compost, and transporting the tools. Our aim was to have all students to plant at least one seed indoors and tend to the seedling until our frost free date of June 1st. A local seed company helped us with seed donations so that we were able to start many more seeds than we needed and the children took their seedlings home to plant with their families. The enthusiasm and excitement over this project has spread and the school decided to purchase a small greenhouse so we could offer even more opportunities to extend our growing season. One of the highlights of this project was to see (both figuratively and literally) how a small seed of an idea could flourish and grow! Our sincere thanks to the Alaska Fertilizer and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for this opportunity!

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