Junaluska Elementary School in Waynesville, North Carolina, has an extensive program that begins in the first grade and extends into the second. Not content with providing five square foot beds, their fantastic sponsor, the NC Extension Master Gardeners, has gifted the school with a variety of other raised beds and specialty gardens including: a strawberry pyramid, an herb wheel, a bean teepee, Three Sisters gardens, a fragrance bed, a pollinator bed, a sweet potato bed, a popcorn bed, a Trail of Tears cornbread bed, potato bags, blueberry bushes, and flowers.
The school’s purpose of teaching gardening is to instill in the students a sense of appreciation and respect for nature in addition to teaching math and science concepts. The program begins in first grade as the young students plant the gardens in spring. During the summer, rising first and second graders (and their parents!) are invited to help tend the gardens and harvest produce and flowers. Later, as returning second graders, the kids harvest what they planted in spring. It’s a great opportunity to teach the entire gardening cycle. The program is large, involving more than 150 students, 7 teachers, and as many parent volunteers as possible. In addition to the hands-on gardening, the NC Master Gardeners teach a variety of educational programs. We love this! What a win/win for all!!