Millville, PA, United States
Greenwood Friends School is a small Quaker school in Central Pennsylvania. Our school emphasizes individualizing instruction to meet the academic needs of our students along with instilling the Quaker testimonies of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, and stewardship. Over 75% of the students at Greenwood receive financial assistance to help with the cost of tuition.
In order to increase the biodiversity of our school yard, we began creating a 1/4 acre Food Forest Classroom in 2011. The Food Forest Classroom is a polyculture orchard that is modeled after a natural forest. We have fruit and nut trees planted, shrubs, and herbaceous perennials planted to attract wildlife and provide a yield of food for our school community and to share with the local food bank.
We planted the trees in the spring of 2012 along with blueberry bushes and nectary plants such as bee balm, anise hyssop, echinacea and sunchokes. We would like to plant other perennials including strawberries, grape vines, and more nectary plants for pollinators. We also have a native bee hotel in the food forest classroom. The area is very diverse now as you can see from the photos, and we hope with time to expand this area to naturalize an adjacent drainage basin that captures water from our parking lot. Our students have developed ideas for the types of native plants that would help capture and slow down the run-off from the parking lot to lessen the effects of erosion on a neighboring stream and also provide habitat for wildlife like birds and amphibians.
We use the Food Forest Classroom regularly in all subject areas for our students. We have also conducted free community workshops to share how easy it is to use some of the permaculture practices we have used to transform a small yard into a polyculture garden or orchard that can provide food for people and habitat and food for wildlife simultaneously.