Back in May 2015 Kim Allsup, a teacher at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod, posted an article on her blog all about the school’s organic garden. The garden is used to introduce the children to the basics of gardening. They learn to plant and tend the crops which are then harvested and used for school lunches. The title of the article is “Share if You Think Every School Should Have a Year-Round Gardening Program” and it has been shared thousands of times. You may well have seen it already, but if not please add your share too.
A few years ago the children at our school grew, harvested and, ultimately, ate a giant, two-pound carrot.
Our organic gardening program at the Waldorf School of Cape Cod has come a long way since then. We now have a unheated hoop house and a program where middle school gardeners lead first through fifth graders as they learn to build soil, plant, transplant, tend, water and harvest food year round. Our harvests are transformed by our school chef into amazing meals served at lunch. The summer tending of the garden is a community responsibility. We have weekly Family Gardening sessions organized by grade level where families share a pot luck meal and then work together in the garden in the cool of the evening.
The 24 by 48 feet hoop house is the heart of our gardening program. It is an indoor gardening classroom that aligns the school year with garden life by spreading the harvest over four seasons. Since it is unheated, we choose winter crops such as carrots, spinach and kale that grow when the nights are very cold and the days are slightly warm. A sunny day in February can bring temperatures in the 20s outside and in the sixties in the hoop house. The night lows in the hoop house can go into the teens or 20s, Yet, since the soil is warmed by the sun during the day, the soil in the beds never freezes. Our inspiration for the growing methods we use comes from Eliot Coleman who has written books about growing in four seasons in Maine. http://www.fourseasonfarm.com