One of the considerations I weighed heavily when deciding whether to stay in a Waldorf school environment or send my son to public school kindergarten was the connection to nature he would experience.
At our Waldorf school, kids are outside in any kind of weather, sing songs and do rituals connected to the seasons, and grow a few things, like a grass garden in the spring. Edible gardening comes in the grades, as does a week-long trip to a biodynamic farm.
The public school we ended up choosing won out for a variety of reasons (including cost!), but one of the strongest things it had going for it was a serious gardening component. Families pitch in monthly to make the school grounds beautiful and to help tend the beds that annually yield over 100 pounds of lettuce that gets donated (in addition to the leaves that get eaten at lunchtime by the students).
There may still be a lot public schools can do to go more green, but this sounds like a great step in the right direction.
A Holistic Moms schooling options panel two years ago gave me an idea of what was being done in some Northern Virginia schools, but an event coming up this Friday will give a full picture of the greenest efforts afoot today and ideas for the future.
“Grow Eat Learn” is a seminar about “Building Sustainability with Community Gardening and Edible Schoolyards: Patterns and Tools for Success.” The day-long event on Friday, September 16 includes panels on engaging community, fostering a “gardening continuum” from preschool through higher education, and sharing ideas for sustainability.
Speakers from Arlington and Alexandria include a principal, a teacher, a school garden coordinator, the volunteer manager for Arlington Food Assistance Center, a holistic health counselor and school sustainability evaluator, a school board member, a county board member, a horticulture technician, a food services dietician, a family and consumer sciences senior extension agent, a nature center director, and a volunteer for the Virginia Cooperative Extension.
The event at Fairlington Community Center in Arlington costs $5 but sounds like the inspiration and information it will impart will be invaluable to any parents looking to green their thumbs and their school districts.
To register, call (703) 2288-6414 or e-mail mgarlalex (at) gmail (dot) com.
Jessica Claire Haney blogs about her efforts to live close to nature (most of the time) at Crunchy-Chewy Mama.