Southfield-Lathrup High School
In the spring of 2012, students at Southfield-Lathrup High School began the “Charger Garden.” At the end of the inaugural season, we had harvested and weighed over 322 pounds of produce and documented at least 210 individual students who helped in the garden or used it during a class!
History and Background
The initial goals of Southfield-Lathrup High School’s Charger Garden were to:
- Get kids outside and active, in line with goals of the No Child Left Inside (NCLI) movement
- Allow students an opportunity to see where their food comes from and experience healthy food choices
- Foster positive community and student relations and attitudes through service learning
- Improve the aesthetics of the school grounds
Why a School Garden?
There is robust scientific data that being outside is good for kids – both health wise and educationally. Eating fresh produce is also the healthiest choice for our bodies. Gardening ties these two ideas together – AND it’s FUN!
Furthermore, in our current economically stressed times, hunger is a reality for some in our communities. Providing fresh produce to those in need can really help out, and it’s the right thing to do. Also, when learning and service are combined, studies also show increased retention, better attitudes toward learning and improved self-esteem for participants.
Lastly, in an urban landscape, it is easy to lose understanding of how humans are ultimately connected to the Earth. A garden is a great venue to get kids connected – physically and mentally - to where the support of all life comes from.
Spring 2012: Ground preparation, garden planning and planting by 4 biology classes and members of Green Team; grant money received from MSUE
Summer 2012: Watering, weeding and tending by staff volunteer and student volunteer
Fall 2012: Harvesting and learning by 3 chemistry classes, 1 environmental science class, 1 biology class, 1 life skills class, members of Green Team and adult volunteers; selling, eating and donation of produce to local food bank
Major crops were
Tomatoes * Cucumbers * Green and Red Peppers * Chili peppers * Corn * Watermelon * Cantaloupe * Honeydew melon * Zinnias * Sunflowers * Basil * Mint * Thyme * Rosemary * Lavender * Cilantro * Dill * Sage
Additional plantings included
Wheat * potatoes * onions * garlic * carrots
Sample Curriculum and Community Connections
- Student DECA members created advertising and a brochure about garden products
- Art Department designed a logo
- Green Team and DECA sold produce at parent night
- Life Skills and Special Education classes utilized the garden for lessons
- Produce was donated to a local food pantry (Open Hands, Royal Oak, MI)
- Produce was tasted fresh and in several recipes
- REAL learning happened! Science content abounds in the garden: habitat, niche, predation, dicot vs. monocot plants, evolution, seed protection, flower structure, biodiversity, pollination, environmental concerns, structure of water – (why did the cucumber split when the temperature froze?), chemistry of color, odor, flavor…the list goes on!
To find out how our little plot connects to other local and national initiatives, check out the links below.
First Lady Michelle Obama's contribution to our common goal:
How Michigan is trying to get kids outside and healthy:
Also look on Facebook for “Michigan-No-Child-Left-Inside”
More about service learning and its benefits