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Community Gardens Offer New Learning Opportunities In Lynnfield

Eight community gardens currently located at LHS and the two elementary schools with help from Lynnfield Educational Trust donation.

The following was provided by LHS Science Dept. Chair Scott Gordon and the Lynnfield Educational Trust:

The majority of the funding for the community gardens in the Lynnfield Public Schools came through a generous donation from the Lynnfield Educational Trust (LET).

Gardens are all identical 4x8 raised beds.  There are 8 gardens at the high school and one at each of the elementary schools.  We are planning to build one at the middles school as well.  Gardens were build using sheet mulching (layered gardening) and students and teachers alike helped layer the gardens with cardboard, newspaper, peat moss, compost, dirt, and leaves which combine to create beautiful soil while also diverting useful materials from the waste stream. 

Stephanie Klove at Summer Street Elementary and Kathleen DeRosa at Huckleberry Hill Elementary are using their gardens with their second grade classes.  The elementary gardens and students have grown and harvested buckwheat from the summer and are planting a fall or spring crop of spinach to harvest in the cooler weather.  They are working on creating such things as garden books and movies.

There are many goals and benefits of the community gardens, but overall the gardens represent an outdoor experiential learning space where students from any class, club, or group in the school can benefit. Sustainability and protection of earth’s resources are at the core of this project.

The eight gardens at the high school are overseen by Science Department Chair Scott Gordon and have been created and maintained organically.  No non-natural fertilizers or pesticides are used.  We keep two active compost bins near the gardens for adding organic waste as well.

Since last fall, we have grown and harvested baby spinach, buckwheat, Swiss chard, peas, carrots, beets, corn, green and hot peppers, tomatoes, radishes, onions, and even a pumpkin we never planted among other things – it grew from a seed in the compost.

We have opened the door for any class, club, or group in the school to get involved.  Some of Mr. Gordon’s advisory students built beds and grew 4 pounds of peas.  One of his classes is also working with Visual Arts teacher Laura Johnson who grew a bed of beets.  The chemistry class will extract the natural red and purple dyes from the beets in the lab and then students will use this dye to create art projects.  The chemistry class and art class will work together on both parts of the project. 

John Sarabia, a science teacher at the high school, has provided his 40 years of growing experience and worked with some of his classes to test the effects of adding carbon to the soil as well as growing the largest variety of vegetables in the gardens.  Mr. Callahan and the Differentiated Instruction program have taken over two of the beds to learn the life skills involved with growing and caring for vegetables.  They will also be using the vegetables to make foods in their kitchen. 

Jennifer Goguen grew a bed of corn and is looking into the idea of growing a Colonial garden as her classes study this period in history.  Victory gardens have also been discussed as a way to teach about times during WWII. 

Bill Wallace, an anatomy teacher, grew spinach as a way of discussing the benefits of such things as Vitamins A and C, iron, and magnesium to the maintenance of various body systems. 

Mr. Gordon has recently built a hoop house over one of the gardens so students can extend the growing season well into the fall and early in the spring.  Moving forward, we plan to have a variety of hardy plants like peas, spinach, and red and green lettuces among others going in the ground in Mid to late March or as soon as the ground can be worked.

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