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8th Grade
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Gardening Program

Background Information

  Third Grade
3 Sisters Garden
Plant a new lawn
    Monthly Garden Calendar        
The Maharishi School Gardening Program began in the Spring 1997 when we received a $5,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to begin a gardening program and write a model sustainable agriculture program. Tools and books were purchased, and the National Gardening Association conducted a two day workshop with our teachers. In the Fall of 1997 we received a grant from the National Gardening Association amounting to $700 in gardening tools and supplies to begin a gardening program. Then in the Spring of 1999 when we received a $34,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to begin a model composting operation for schools across the state.

The Maharishi School Gardening Program integrates gardening activities into the existing curriculum. Thereby, it adds a hands-on component to subjects students are currently studying. For example, the third grade does an extensive study of the Native Americans. In the Spring they plant a Three Sisters Garden which features plants cultivated by the Native Americans, corn, beans and squash. Gardening projects incorporate not only social studies but also language arts, science, mathematics, and the Science of Creative Intelligence. Students thoroughly enjoy gardening activities and eagerly and enthusiastically dig, plant, mulch, water, weed and harvest. They are very proud of their gardens!

In conjunction with classroom studies, students learn responsibility and team work as well as organic gardening practices which grow healthy soil and plants. Students learn to identify plants and write gardening journals which record their activities in their gardens. Some classes keep a gardening scrapbook, and others "publish" big books of their projects.

More classes than ever participated in gardening projects this past Spring! On-going gardens are the 4th grade girls' "Secret Garden" and the 3rd grade girls' and boys' Native American "Three Sisters Garden." New gardens this year are Miss Phyllis' "Music Garden" and the "Sunflower House Garden." Four classes cooperatively planned and planted the "Sunflower House Garden": Pre-School, Kindergarten, and grades one and two. Each class's garden is one wall of the house. It is a delightful place to read, snack. rest, etc. The 4th grade boys established a fund raiser Pumpkin Patch in the University Garden.

During summer vacation, students and their families take turns on a weekly basis caring for the gardens, mulching, weeding, watering, harvesting, and enjoying. Parents without home gardens express thanks for the opportunity to garden with their children.

Additionally, this past Spring, eight enthusiastic Upper School students signed up to learn about organic farming with Eric Kindberg, a local commercial, organic grower. Eric received a grant from the Kellogg Foundation to be a mentor to interested students. Though students worked with him only once, due to rain, rain, and more rain, they learned how to make potting soil and seed flats on a large scale. It was planned that they would have a plot at Eric's farm to plant, tend, harvest, and market. The profits were to be divided amongst them.

Also, two Seniors, true Pioneers, participated in a newly created elective,  Greenhouse Data Analysis. A greenhouse is under construction on the  School campus. Students learned about the parts of the Greenhouse and how they work. They created a manual to assist the next group of students. Included in the manual is a  report about insulation, definitions of  Greenhouse terms, and instructions on how to use the Greenhouse computer in order to collect data from the many temperature sensors and how to make charts and graphs of the data. This knowledge will provide a basis for successful operation of the Greenhouse.

Each year the Maharishi School Gardening Program holds a fund raiser. Funds are needed to maintain existing gardens, establish new gardening projects, purchase seeds and curriculum materials and outfit the interior of the Greenhouse. The past three years students in grades one through five sold Spring and Summer flowering bulbs. This year, the younger students made stepping stones for gardens and walkways. These will be available during the Lower School Spring Open House, March 14th and 15th.

Susan McLaskey

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