Binford Middle School Garden Club
The Binford Garden Club was established as a scheduled elective class for students at Binford Middle School in grades 6-8 as part of a new club program developed for the 2016-2017 school year. The club aims to cultivate the interests of students in gardening and caring for the environment. Most students who joined wanted to learn how to grow their own food.
In response to this interest, the garden club and mentors established the goal of developing a school edible garden in an open unused green space on the school property. As part of this effort, the garden club joined forces with volunteers from the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay who had already begun developing a section of the green space into a rain garden. Both types of gardens have taught students ranging aspects of sustainability and have built awareness of their own impact on the environment.
While planning the edible garden, the Garden Club wanted to take advantage of existing materials and resources on the site and at the school. An existing rain barrel tied to the roofs gutter system was used to provide water to the garden. The garden shape and layout was designed to fit the dimensions of a large geodesic dome that the science and art departments had utilized for their classes. The goal was to repurpose the dome to serve as a greenhouse structure for the Binford Garden for year-round gardening. Unfortunately, by fall of 2017, the geodesic dome was no longer available to use as a greenhouse structure over the garden, so the Garden Club moved forward with building the rounded garden beds without the larger structure. We focused on raising funds for a new greenhouse in the 2017-2018 school year.
The Binford Garden Clubs fundraising efforts are geared at furnishing the phased site plan (provided in google drive). A goal is to get planting off of the ground in raised beds and within a greenhouse so that plants will be sheltered and better protected - a lesson learned from the previous year.
Phase I consists of the reconstruction of the circular garden beds from the previous years project into larger raised beds with higher walls and continue developing an outdoor classroom, while also beginning fundraising efforts for phase II. Phase II consists of continuing to raise funds to construct an 8 - 0 x 16 - 0 greenhouse with raised beds, work benches, & tool storage inside. The Garden Club hopes to use the greenhouse to germinate seedlings and prolong the growing season.
The Binford Middle School Garden Club brainstormed strategies for raising funds for Phase II, the greenhouse. Attending an arts-focused school lead the students to the idea of producing a fundraising video. Students and teachers collaborated to write an original song to attract attention to the Garden Clubs efforts. The song is a play on Disney Frozens popular song, Let it Go. The Garden Clubs song, Let it Grow describes their desires to build a greenhouse and their love of being outside in the garden.
Garden Club mentors, Quinn Evans Architects, reached out to the Richmond community through VCUs Videography Club to find a volunteer videographer who would donate time to make the fundraising video a reality. Dan Lee with Lee Bus Productions generously donated his creative skills, time, and professional equipment to film the students in the garden. He performed interviews of the students, teachers, and mentors as well.
Our continued involvement in the Garden Club over the years is motivated by our desire to teach young people how to grow their own food as well as to provide an equal opportunity for students to have access to healthy produce.
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Students are able to participate in the full-circle process of gardening. They learned how to use a drill to help build the garden beds, helped plant seeds indoors, planted seedlings in the raised beds, and now get to watch them grow into full plants for harvesting. Everything they grow they will be able to taste at school and even take home.
We are currently raising funds to build a more permanent green house structure.
Binford Middle School implemented the club program in the 2016-2017 school year for grades 6-8. This club program allows students to participate in their choice of club every Tuesday and Thursday for 45 minutes out of the day. The school staff members that run the Garden Club provide educational curriculum to supplement our garden planting and tending activities. The school donated their most visible piece of land to the creation of this garden in the hopes to excite nearby neighbors and interest them in the program. We have noticed more conversations happening between the students and staff and the passersby.