School Gardening Triumphs

A collection of ideas which helped us overcome a very difficult time.

In August 2021 I was invited to the 18. Baden Würtembergisches Forum „Gärtnern macht Schule“ to give a presentation and share our experience in the LIS school garden during the COVID 19 pandemic (April 2020-June 2021). While putting together the presentation, I was very surprised by the amount of ideas we developed to keep the school garden going and give the school community the chance to use it even while school was closed.

Since a lot of people were going for little walks during the lockdown (April-May 2020) we had lots of visitors passing by the garden. That inspired the following ideas:

Poetry Corner & Inspiring Garden Gate

We chose poems, pictures and lyrics of songs according to the seasons in several languages. We laminated them so that they were weather protected and upcycled cartons to plant flowers in and hang them at the gate to inspire others.

We observed a lot of people taking a break, reading a poetry or talk about the pictures, maybe even singing one of the songs together.

We met groups of people who came by frequently and translated the poems with their mobile phones and used it to learn English. At Christmas we realized that some people had added decorations on our Christmas wreaths. All these silent interactions showed us that the idea had worked and we were making an impact on our community.

Garden to Go

One of our secondary students designed beautiful worksheets to use in the school garden as her CAS project in 2019. Since the school was closed for a long time, we created a Garden-to-Go outside the garden on the fence where people could take worksheets according to the season and fill them out at home with their children.

Good Mood to take away – Gute Laune zum Mitnehmen

We created a little stand with homegrown plants in funny pots and a donation box. It was a trusting concept with the cash box in the open but it worked well. We even observed people taking plants without giving money and coming back after 30 min to pay for it. The appreciation of the idea was felt. And all these ideas were also a reason for small chats, listening to each other, interaction at a distance (of course).

Virtual Garden Tours

Twice the marketing department of LIS filmed me in the garden giving a tour and explaining what was happening and growing in the garden to the school community. It was my first time doing something like this and a great fun. Later we shared the Virtual tours in the Primary weekly assembly, in Facebook and Instagram. One teacher who returned to south Africa sent us a comment how happy she was to go on a tour in the garden even being so far away.

Since the school garden is a large space, we offered its use to our community. I spent many afternoons in the garden with students, teachers and friends. Always one to one gardening session since this was the restriction given by the state. I have to say, it was a very effective time for the school garden. We repaired a lot of things, did lots of planting, re designed the flower beds. And most of all everybody who came and helped was just very happy to have the opportunity to spend some time outside being productive together.

One other idea was to open the school garden for family picnics. We stored a little barbecue and a samovar in the garden which everybody could use and families wrote me emails to arrange a date.

A big CAS project was finished in the time of pandemic. Ferdi, a Grade 12 student worked together with Jörg, a primary parent to build a garden stage. It was a perfect project for these times since Ferdi had more time than normal to work on such a huge undertaking and it gave him the opportunity to spend lots of time outside. He still owes us a concert on that stage 🙂

After the school opened again in June 2020 the meaning of having a school garden had changed rapidly for our school community. It was booked out every hour of the school day:

– Sport classes were held in the school garden

– Teachers used it to have their breaks or prepare for their next lesson

– Parents met every Tuesday morning to help keep the garden in shape

– Teachers and parents were organizing yoga sessions outside

– Students could join the afternoon activity “Garden Explorers”

– Fresh cut flowers were offered to the teachers in the teachers lounge

– The school garden turned into a green classroom

– Part of the school garden was used by the students to build their own playground (Bauspielplatz) using palettes and old wood

– Parents organized Farmers Markets on the school yard selling homegrown plants as well as homemade foods and decorations

– Classes were seeding and planting flowers, fruits and vegetables

– Students were practicing and performing a play on the garden stage

– Seasonal celebrations like Easter and end of the year parties were organized in the school garden

Here we are in 2023. COVID-19 has been overcome slowly. But a huge wave of other infections is hitting us right now. I will keep the school garden in shape for you to use it and it is my daily duty as the school garden coordinator of LIS to remind all of us how lucky we are to call such a green oasis our outdoor learning space in the middle of nature, surrounded by trees and birds.

The last years have shown how precious that is. Let’s keep using it this way and let’s get even more creative!

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