The Garden Committee was formed in April 2012, and early gardening efforts were boosted by a generous grant from Grow to Learn. With this funding and the help of volunteers from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, the Garden Committee built five planters and started a small, on-site composting program (read more here). The Butterfly Project donated native plants to create a butterfly habitat, and the NYC Parks Department provided leaves for composting. The Promenade Gardens Conservancy and the Poplar Street Community Garden were generous with their time, tools, and wisdom. PS 8 was also accepted into GrowNYC’s Recycling Champions program, which provides education, resources, and support for recycling efforts.
PS 8 teachers and students worked with the DOE Office of Sustainability and city recycling experts to increase recycling awareness. The Green Team emerged reinvigorated from this effort to help educate students about recycling, composting, and saving energy.
The Garden Committee partnered with the Teachers College Program in Nutrition to help PS 8 teachers enrich and extend the curriculum with garden programming. PS 8 was accepted into the Garden to Café program, which allows students to share in the bounty of the school garden with Harvest Day celebrations in the fall and spring. PS 8 also enrolled in the Department of Sanitation’s organics collection program, which offers curbside collection of organic waste to divert organic material from disposal for beneficial use. The cafeteria added receptacles for compost in addition to those for recyclables and waste.
The Garden Committee continued to expand the PS 8 curriculum with garden programming with help from Teachers College Program in Nutrition and a grant from the Office of School Wellness. Gardening supported the curriculum across all grades:
- Kindergartners planted daffodils as an extension of their study of trees
- 1st graders planted wheat seeds as part of their bread unit
- 2nd graders planted kale as part of their brassica unit
- 3rd graders studying Native Americans planted a “Three Sisters Garden” (corn, beans, and squash)
- 4th graders learned about composting as part of their ecosystems unit
- 5th graders planted lettuce, herbs, and other vegetables as an extension of their science nutrition unit
With support from a continuation grant from the Office of School Wellness, a grant from Grow to Learn, and a grant from the DOE Office of Sustainability, the Garden Committee again brought in a garden coach to help shape and implement curricular extensions and plan for the redesign of PS 8’s front yard.
The Garden Committee began to implement the redesign of PS 8’s front yard with continuing support from Grow to Learn and the DOE Office of Sustainability. Workshops with City Growers expanded the curriculum in grades 2, 4, and 7.
Adding to grants from the DOE Office of Sustainability and Grow to Learn, the Garden Committee gained support from Alliance for a Healthier Generation, Citizens Committee for New York City, and MSWAB to complete implementation of an outdoor classroom in our front yard. Families, teachers and students — especially 5th grade students — helped with hours of labor to move soil and bricks, compost, mulch, weed and plant. Thanks to their labor, the native plants front yard garden is now open for all PS 8 students to use. The Garden Committee is working to find ways to implement the new science standards and curriculum in the gardens and strengthen the ways in which student-grown produce is harvested and incorporated into the school lunch program.
Fifth graders and Garden Committee members built weather resistant benches to complete our classroom and are continuing to fine tune our plantings. Spring in the garden classroom is amazing!