Johnson students in garden

Mud and imagination in the Johnson garden

2019 marks my eighth year in the Johnson Garden. One of the things that makes both Johnson and the garden program here so special is the sense of ownership that teachers and students have taken. Over the years, as the Garden has grown so has the overall participation across the school, and in turn, the opportunities for learning have similarly expanded. This year, every teacher at Johnson, across all grades (even the 3 year old pre-K class) scheduled weekly or biweekly garden time before the school year had even started!

Each year, teachers bring both their students and their ideas, thereby making the Garden better for themselves as well as the next class and the next generation of students who come into this space. Our new and growing Science Center and Mud Kitchen, the idea for which came from a former Johnson teacher, is one such project. The Center continues to be a work in progress and has already been well-used. The roof is finished and we have a running sink which will soon use rain collected from the roof. Additionally, we have an erosion table, a word puzzle and a spinner for games and random selection.

photo collage of kids in Johnson garden

This fall also saw the addition of a water feature with Cat Tails and a sarracenia, a carnivorous pitcher plant. The sarracenia has been a particular point of fascination for our students who like to peer down into the pitchers and catch sight of captured flies and other flying insects. We are looking to add some small fish to eat mosquito larvae.

We are growing a variety of greens (lettuce, kale, collards, spinach, red cabbage, sorrel) as well as broccoli, carrots, radishes, beets, beans, squash, tomatoes. In addition to the vegetables, we are currently rich in herbs and have basil, oregano, parsley, cilantro, rosemary, mint, stevia, lemongrass, lemon thyme, lemon balm, sage and lavender! Students love to explore the sheer variety of tastes and smells.

Over the course of this year, we are planning to continue to transform our upper bed area into a Pollinator Garden with wildflowers, bulbs, butterfly bushes and clover trail.

Excerpt from City Schoolyard Garden September 2019 Newsletter
Written by Rick Harden