This week, May 23–27, USGBC Minnesota celebrated Minnesota Schoolyard Gardens Planting Week, as proclaimed by Governor Mark Dayton. Staff, partners and volunteers braved record heat and stormy weather to help schools get gardens in the ground to support hands-on, environmental education.
The proclamation was celebrated in Murray Middle School’s freshly planted, student-designed pollinator garden, with special guests including Senator John Marty (66), Representative Alice Hausman (66A), City of St. Paul Councilmember Amy Brendmoen, Board of Education Director Mary Vanderwert and Assistant Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams.
Led by their teacher, Tim Chase, students presented their project from concept to execution. Sen. Marty read the proclamation and commended the work of teachers in providing unique learning experiences. Rep. Hausman and Councilmember Brendmoen focused on the positive impacts of outdoor and experiential learning, Hausman noting the importance of the “how” to the “why.”
Senator John Marty (66) and Saint Paul Public Schools Director Vanderwert plant the final root systems, with student guidance, in the new pollinator garden at Murray Middle School in celebration of Minnesota Schoolyard Gardens Planting Week.
A key component to promoting the proclamation was asking teachers, garden coordinators and nonprofit partners to register projects as Green Apple Day of Service projects. The data will be used to advocate for more awareness, support and collaboration for hands-on, outdoor learning in the future. From the time of announcing the proclamation (March 3 at the Schoolyard Garden Conference) to the time of celebrating the proclamation during planting week (May 24), over 40 garden projects had been registered—and the list continues to grow.
Working with a team of partners and in-kind donors, the MN Green Schools Coalition (an initiative of USGBC Minnesota) organized volunteers and garnered donations of compost, plants, tool rental and expertise to support the Green Apple garden projects. Key partners in the proclamation included MN Schoolyard Garden Coalition, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, Jeffers Foundation and Monarch Lab at University of Minnesota. In addition, the following companies donated in-kind materials to support planting projects: Full Circle Organics, The Mulch Store, Sunbelt Rentals Minneapolis and SelfEco Garden. Thank you to St. Paul Bagelry for donating refreshments for our planting week kick-off celebration!
Special thanks to the amazing teachers, garden coordinators and school leaders who make schoolyard gardens and outdoor learning space a reality for their students.
Senator John Marty (66), Representative Alice Hausman (66A), Councilmember Amy Brendmoen (Saint Paul, Ward 5), Saint Paul Public Schools BOE Director Vanderwert and Assistant Superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams pose with Ecology Immersion Inquiry students and their teacher, Mr. Tim Chase, in front of their new student-designed pollinator garden.