Garden Education Program
The Garden Education program at Vernon is currently supported in partnership by local garden education nonprofit Growing Gardens, the Vernon PTA, and the Vernon SUN School program. These organizations support the employment of a fulltime garden coordinator at Vernon. Each organization uniquely supports the garden coordinator in providing the following opportunities to students and families:
We are proud to share that the Oregon Department of Education Farm to School program awarded an amazing grant to Growing Gardens in partnership with Portland Public Schools and Vernon IB World School for the 2016-2017 school year! The purpose of the grant is to enhance students’ nutrition and academic achievement through active, reallife engagement with school gardens while demonstrating a model for fully integrated garden education that can be replicated by other schools.
Our Garden Coordinator at Vernon, Zoe Dawson, supports our teachers in providing interdisciplinary experiential learning opportunities for students with the following goals:
● Educate children using garden-based lessons integrated into core subjects during the school day, while building the capacity of teachers.
● Create opportunities for students to cook and taste produce to increase vegetable knowledge and preference for eating healthy food.
● Engage students in indepth garden education afterschool through Schools Uniting Neighborhoods (SUN School)
● Connect students to Oregon agriculture through handson field trips to local farms
● Facilitate multigenerational and multiethnic community building through events, cooking demonstrations at food pantries and garden committee development.
Working as a strong advocate for garden education at Vernon, the PTA provides a yearly stipend for the garden coordinator which provides 10 hours per week of added garden education and maintenance at Vernon. This school year the stipend will provide opportunities for students to participate in the following:
● Weekly drop in recess gardening for students from every grade level
● Monthly garden work parties held the 2nd Saturday of every month 9am -12pm
● After school family events Back to School Night, PTA Science Night, STEAM Night, SUN Winter Craft Fair, Vernon Carnival, 10 year garden celebration
● English Language Development (ELD) class weekly garden club
Provides funding for two weekly after school clubs, including a Kindergarten 2nd grade Garden Club and a 3rd 5th grade Cooking Club. As well, there are special events for the whole family throughout the year including; Family Cooking Nights and Adult Garden Education classes.
Vision / Goal
The goal of the garden education program at Vernon is to provide students with hands-on experiential learning opportunities in an outdoor environment. Each student will have multiples opportunities to visit the garden throughout the school year, allowing them to see firsthand the changes in the garden from season to season. Students will be able to see a plant from seed to harvest and have a hand in every step of the process.
The garden education program at Vernon is planned with classroom connections in mind. The curriculum is based on Next Generation Science Standards and seamlessly incorporates grade level International Baccalaureate units and central ideas into the plan. Thus, students can effortlessly connect their learning in the garden to the concepts they are studying in their classroom, and use this knowledge to further empower their learning.