Into the Garden, Remotely
To you, it’s moss. To your kindergartner through fifth grader, it’s a bryophyte – or it will be by the end of the week. Bryophytes are this week’s topic in Adrienne Wallace’s garden classes.
In a normal year, Adrienne works with each class in person once a week for 30–45 minutes, and much of the work they do involves hands-on learning in either the Seven Circles or Butterfly garden. But because she, like other teachers, can’t move from classroom to classroom now, she teaches all but one of her classes via YouTube videos, which she posts once or twice a week.
Her videos are usually 10–15 minutes long and cover a range of topics. Most fall in one of three categories: nature walks; work in the gardens and garden updates; and botany and other topics from the natural sciences. She supplements these with YouTube videos on related topics. Here’s one of her videos on bryophytes.
When Adrienne’s students were all on campus, her classes centered around the gardens. “One silver lining of this year is that I get to teach the children about things that aren’t related to our gardens, like permaculture and ecology.”
ART FROM NATURE:
Fridays are devoted to garden-themed art and activities. “We’re working on flower pressing and making art with the pressed flowers, making bird feeders, and processing sheep's wool into yarn to knit things with.”
There are no tests and no homework per se in garden class, but Adrienne encourages her students to go out into nature to find and observe things she talks about in the videos. “Sometimes, like with some fermenting videos I did, I encourage them to try things at home too.”
Room 11 second graders are lucky. Adrienne is one of the teachers in their classroom (she teaches math), so they get to spend half an hour or so with her in one of the gardens every day. Usually it’s the Seven Circles Garden, since she’s in the middle of an extensive renovation of the Butterfly Garden.
“I really love that I see the second grade every day. We can dive deeper into topics and try things I wouldn't be able to try otherwise.”
Keeping our two gardens healthy, productive, and beautiful takes a lot of work. In the past, Adrienne’s classes have performed many of the routine but essential (and time-consuming) tasks, like weeding and mulching. But this year she doesn’t have her young helpers and admits to feeling a bit overwhelmed when it comes to maintaining the gardens.
She would very much like to enlist the aid of parents and families who could help on the weekends. “Weeding, trimming, pruning, and removing years of dead material could be a huge help!” Be watching future Wednesday Messages for information about how you can help.
Adrienne is a Meher Schools graduate, and so is her husband, Warren, who recently joined our administrative staff. Their daughter is in our preschool.