Five South Education Center staff spoke during the “Cultivating the Future Conference” held at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum in February.
The Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Coalition and the Master Gardener Volunteer Program co-sponsored this year’s program. Educators from as far away as California participated in the workshops that focused on incorporating education objectives and whole child development into the K-12 school gardens.
Representing the South Education Center gardens were SEC/SECA Principal-Jayne Tiedemann, Biology/Food Science Instructor and Garden Program Coordinator-Brian Wheat, Special Education Instructors-Retha Kraay and Karen Bendtsen, and Food Services Manager-Wanda Nickolai. (click on photo) Their workshop focused on what is necessary to build and maintain the rich (magical) community of support and learning that surrounds the garden.
“Our team shared so many elements of our annual school garden,” said Jayne Tiedemann. “This information included practices and methods applied in the realms of workload, funding, building/district buy-in, planning, and developing curriculum.”
By sharing input from other staff during the past four years of cultivation, important roles and steps were more defined for participants who are doing long-term planning.
When looking ahead to the 2014 growing season, Brian Wheat shared a few new things.
“We are including food that can be integrated into our school lunches,” Brian said. “We hope to provide produce for all of our three lunch sessions and integrating at least six side dishes prepared by the food science class throughout the year.”
“With the purpose of increasing Social Emotional Learning opportunities, experiential learning, and building community, we are also moving to conduct many more classes in the garden space when the weather permits,” Brian added.
This is the sixth year the school gardens have grown at South Education Center. Many of our sites have had gardens six years or longer. Congratulations Gardeners!