Summer of Solutions is an incomplete name. Summer ended a while ago, but Hartford’s growing season has a long ways to go, and so do we. Our summer training program may be over, but Summer of Solutions Hartford is still busy. Part II of our Autumn Update Series focuses on Summer of Solutions’ work at the Burns Latino Studies Academy.
When we arrived at the Burns School for the first time, it looked like this (actually, this picture was taken after we had hacked down and dug up all of the weeds and vines that grew along the fence):
By the end of the summer, our participants and volunteers had helped create an outdoor garden classroom for students and teachers to use throughout the year.
Working with COMPASS Youth Collaborative and the Latino Studies Academy administration, we were able to help the school set up an after-school program that will offer students garden-based education and recreation throughout the fall. Burns created a position for one of our Program Leaders to work with teachers and students to care for the garden and teach a new outdoor and experiential curriculum.
We believe that making gardens and environmental-education accessible to all schools is essential to realizing social and environmental justice. School gardens can serve teachers and students by offering outdoor, hands-on alternatives to classroom education. Gardens can also teach students subjects like ecology and botany, and applied skills like growing food and cooking.
Finally, working with students is fun. In a movement focused on injustice, oppression and crisis, the importance of fun cannot be overstated.
We hope that the two garden plots at the Burns School will continue to serve both educators and students as places of play and places of learning. As we head into 2013 and the first full growing season at Burns, we envision a student garden that serves as outdoor classroom and functional vegetable garden.