We help oceans,
We help land.
We help everything that we can.
We will work together
To help the earth be better.
We’ve been opening our meetings singing this little ditty, which could be viewed as a club oath. My daughter composed a version of it a year or two ago, just for fun; and we modified it for the club, placing emphasis on working together.
The song expresses the club’s very serious intent, but we add in a bit of goofiness and fun by singing it as fast as we can. The kids get a kick out of it (and so, I admit, do I).
Earth Day Assembly
It was great to see the students in the club get recognized at the school’s spirited Earth Day assembly last week (pictured above). Mrs. Gearhart introduced the club and highlighted its goals and the members’ good efforts so far. When the group was asked what has been the most fun so far, Bridget spoke up to say that she liked working in the courtyard the most. I’m pretty sure that’s a feeling shared by most if not all of the members.
I was also thrilled to hear the announcement of a new school initiative: a sustainability committee that will examine ways to conserve energy and reduce waste within the school community. In addition to various staff, the committee will include a student representative from each grade level. I think this is a wonderful development because, truly, it is by working together – whether the 12 members of the earth club, or all 400+ students and staff of the school – that major progress towards sustainability can be made. Also, the students will learn so much about environmental stewardship (among many other things!) by studying the school’s consumption of energy and materials and by investigating and implementing ways to reduce that consumption.
Week 4 and the big picture
For this week’s meeting, we again spent most of a delightfully warm and sunny hour working in the courtyard garden; but first, we also took some time for looking at the big picture of our gardening project and planning out the few weeks left. If we factor in time for documenting our work and for having families come to the final meeting of the spring, that really only leaves a couple more weeks for the actual work of preparing and planting the garden beds.
We also talked about the needs of the plants and how they might affect our garden plans. The kids were quick to identify the basic things a plant needs to thrive: water, air, soil, sunlight, space. The four walls of the courtyard of course greatly impact the amount of sunlight reaching each garden bed – only one side gets almost full sun – so we will need to select our plant locations accordingly. As for soil, one important and easily measured (and sometimes easily amended) factor is pH. Many plants prefer soil that is slightly on the acidic side of neutral. Besides, using a pH meter is fun (and, I hope, educational); so, we started taking measurements in various parts of the courtyard. (That is to say, we dug a bunch of holes but ran out of time for actual measurements… ah, well, next week…). We might not have time to make any needed pH adjustments this spring, but having the information will be useful for future reference.
Getting back to that “big picture”: 8 weeks isn’t much, but the kids seem so absorbed and in-the-moment as they go about their gardening work. By the time we finish (or, pause for the summer), we will have enhanced the courtyard garden to provide nourishment to a variety of pollinators; and in the process, I’m hoping, we will have nourished a love of nature in these children’s hearts.