Special thanks to these donors: Whole Kids Foundation, Whole Foods Gowanus, Lori Mendalis/Corcoran Real Estate, The Sendak Foundation, GrowNYC
The PS 118 garden… an outdoor living laboratory that nurtures curiosity and exploration, supports learning, fosters health, and builds life-long skills and knowledge, enabling our community to grow towards a more environmentally sustainable future.
By introducing PS 118 kids to fresh food cultivation and garden stewardship, we will empower them with a foundation to be active players in creating healthier communities for themselves– whether it is growing healthy food, planting flower beds or conservation actions that protect the environment.
Our garden is a beloved destination for kids and adults alike, filled with flowers, herbs and vegetable beds, butterflies, bugs and other wildlife. It will serve as a meeting area for classes, extracurricular activities and community events. It will inspire new ways of looking at our world in the classroom, cafeteria and community.
The garden is inspired by Riverpark farm, a portable and modular NYC farm located in a dense urban community that supplies produce to Riverpark Restaurant grown in thousands of lined milk crates. The preferred liners used by Riverpark farm liners are made by Smart Pot. These liners provide for aeration, water drainage and heat release and will help the school get bigger, better plants than what we would get with the same size plastic, fabric, or other liners.
The garden is an outdoor classroom for any number of subjects, including science and ecology, math, creative writing, language arts, biology, solid waste issues, arts, and the environment. Our garden is a space for kids with different learning styles and abilities to work in groups and engage in hands-on, cross-disciplinary education.
The Garden Team will support teachers in outdoor classroom management techniques, harvesting and food safety, garden-themed lessons, and activities. We will make it a priority to find and fund (if needed) garden-related curricula and teaching guides on: Life cycles. Living and non-living things. Diversity in plants and animals, and within the environment. Data collection. Gathering of harvests. Links between farming and food systems. Seasons. Nutrition and cooking. Soil fertility. Planting strategies. Plant selection. Watering techniques. Beneficial plants and insects. Where food comes from. How our bodies use food. What happens to food waste. Compost formation. Recycling back to the soil. Worms!
Plantings accompany NYC DOE curricula, supporting lessons about seasons and growing cycles, earth systems, plant life, food supply systems, and waste streams. Planters are clumped into sections for individual classes as well as common areas for larger crops, and perennials. We have planted herbs and vegetables, flowers, grasses, and plan to plant vines and succulents. A number of crates line the 4th Avenue fence where vines and grasses help form a privacy screen. Planters under the cafeteria windows take advantage of the trestle-like metal mesh that covers the windows, and we have planted peas underneath so kids can see the vines while they eat.
- The PS 118 Garden Team includes participation by teachers, staff, kids, parents, extended family, and volunteers.
- Give our garden the best chance possible to thrive during the school year, and especially through the notoriously challenging summer months.
- Support PS 118’s larger educational goals and values.
- Incorporate educational activities/lessons into the garden.
- Offer opportunities to train interested teachers and staff in key topics, such as garden care and connections to curriculum. Teachers will inform the content of training to meet their individual needs and interests.
- Create an online and written system for assigning garden chores, and maintaining the garden during the summer and when school is not in session.
- Help kids participate in the garden’s maintenance and choices for plants/edibles.
- Conduct small-scale educational activities and multicultural events in the garden.
- Work with the existing PTA, SLT (School Leadership Team), and Green & Healthy Committee.
- Seek information, resources and partnerships from NYC’s network of school garden support programs.
- Tap into resources offered by parents and groups.
- During summer, weekends and vacation days the garden will rely on core volunteers, irrigation system and families who “adopt” a week to maintain it.
- Train “Master Gardeners” who then train others.
- Ensure a maintenance schedule that includes an online chat group.
- Pilot opportunities for casual and 1-time participation (work parties, harvest events).
- “PS 118 Garden playdates” and “Open Garden Hours” as regular times when families can stop by without prior notification. If they stay and find the space and activities inspiring, they may be motivated to sign up for future maintenance opportunities.