May in Minnesota is a bit unpredictable—it could be snowing, it could be 85 degrees, it could be raining for days on end. After a bit of a it all this May, the weather shifted and delivered mostly sunshine and warmth during the week of May 22, just in time for USGBC Minnesota to take part in the second annual Minnesota Schoolyard Garden Planting Week.
Nearly 100 people, including Bloomington Public Schools Superintendent Les Fujitake and City of Bloomington Mayor Gene Winstead, gathered in the newly built outdoor classroom at Washburn Elementary School to help plant their gardens and celebrate those who make outdoor learning possible.
Teachers organized a schoolwide contest to select students from each grade to attend, and parents and community members were invited. The outdoor classroom will serve as a learning and reflection space for the students and as a gathering space for the community, who are welcome to come and learn about sustainable sites that incorporate things like vegetable gardens, native plants and water management measures.
It is an excellent example of how communities can support their schools, schools can support their students and students can pitch into an outstanding project that will inspire environmental stewards for years to come. After a brief program, including a student rendition of "America the Beautiful," another student talking about what schoolyard gardening has meant to him, Superintendent Fujitake reading the garden proclamation, and Mayor Winstead sharing a few thoughts, students and community members (literally) dug in and planted eight vegetable planting boxes, some native grasses and pollinator-friendly plants.
It was exciting to share with the students that their efforts were connected to schools across the state planting their gardens during Schoolyard Garden Planting Week. As part of planting week, we track each project under the banner of Green Apple Day of Service to better understand need and impact. Over 1,500 people registered as part of the planting project benefiting students in Minnesota, and we were able to help distribute free resources such as compost from The Mulch Store, organic fertilizer from JavaCycle, tool sharing, volunteer time and several shout-outs on social media for amazing jobs well done!
Minnesota students are enjoying hands-on environmental education thanks to the committed teachers who create unique learning opportunities in the garden and beyond, and USGBC Minnesota is honored to support them.