In the Spring of 2008, The Garden Project at Oscar Mayer Magnet elementary school began. Fourteen teachers signed on to introduce to their students the joys of working in a garden. Parents and volunteers prepared a 100' x 16' plot just south of the school's entrance on Clifton Avenue. The kids started seeds, created worm bins, tilled their plots and finally planted some plants!
Our original garden contained 16 individual 6' x 7' plots: each classroom had garden co-captains who were in charge of their class plot. One 5th grade class had so many students who wanted to be garden captains that they had to write a letter, give a speech and be selected by their fellow classmates in order to earn their title (see....gardening can be cool too).
Three eighth grade classes partnered with DePaul students studying biodiversity and together they designed and planted two containers flanking our front entrance featuring plants native to Illinois.
In the many years that we have had The Garden Project up and running, there have been some changes but our goals remain the same: we want our students to be interested in where food comes from, learn about our hard-working pollinators, create awareness about our environment, take the learning outside of the building and to help other Chicago Public Schools create their own schoolyard gardens. We also want to shout from the rooftops that playing in the dirt is fun!
Thank you to all of the Mayer families who have contributed their time (and sweat) to The Garden Project and to Principal Katie Konieczny for her full support. And a big thank you to the wonderful teachers at Oscar Mayer Magnet School for your enthusiasm and cooperation.