The School Garden and Your Classroom Curriculum

Little Red school house

School is back in session over most of the state and with that school gardens are being used in curriculum. Hopefully teachers came back to a neat and weed-free space. In the perfect world, teachers would come back to crops planted and paths cleared. If neither of those is your school, you definitely have some work to do this year in building your school garden committee!

Over the coming weeks we will be exploring how to tie your school garden into your classroom curriculum. I look forward to hearing from you all on ideas that you have as well.

This week I want to make sure that all educators are aware of the Great Georgia Pollinator Census. This is happening Friday, August 23rd and Saturday, August 24th. This program is perfect for school gardeners. I have been working with teachers across the state to help them craft events for their students. All that is needed is pollinator garden or an area with several pollinator plants blooming during the census.

For fifteen minutes, participants count insects that land on a favorite pollinator plant and place the insects into categories:

Carpenter Bees
Bumble Bees
Honey Bees
Small Bees
Other Insects

The Insect Counting & Identification Guide is found on the website and is the key to success with the project. The observation sheet can be printed and carried to the garden and actual counts will be uploaded to the website. You do not need a strong entomology background to be successful with this project.

Two years of pilot projects helped us refine the project and make it ideal for upper elementary through high school students. It fits in perfectly with STEAM curriculums. The website also has a special page for educators with ideas on how to use the census with your students. We also have a Facebook group, Georgia Pollinator Census, where educators have been sharing ideas.

Happy Gardening!

National Pollinator Week 2016

It is National Pollinator Week 2016.  Events are going on all across the nation to draw attention to pollinators and pollinator health.  What are you doing to celebrate?

We have been excited to see all of the pollinator gardens across Georgia that are being created as part of the Pollinator Spaces Project.

In Rockdale County, ANR agent Steve Pettis led a group in creating the Rockdale Community and Garden, including a pollinator space.  This garden will be a great asset to the Rockdale community.

National Pollinator Week 2016
Perennial shrubs are the bones of this pollinator space in Rockdale County.
Rockdale Community and Education Garden.
Rockdale Community and Education Garden.
National Pollinator Week 2016
A killdeer bird laid her eggs in the new garden. What a nice surprise!

Heading Southwest from Rockdale, in Coweta County Brooks Elementary School planted their school pollinator garden in late April.  Principal Amy Harrison headed up a group that planned and organized for months before they installed their new space.  Coweta County ANR agent Stephanie Butcher helped the group get off to a great start.  We look forward to seeing more photos as the garden matures.

National Pollinator Week 2016
Brooks Elementary School Pollinator Garden Installation
Brooks Elem 3
Parent and Teachers created Brooks Elementary School’s pollinator garden.

Traveling South from Coweta, the Riverquarium in Albany, Georgia, created a beautiful pollinator space.  Butterfly weed (Asclepius tuberosa), Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris ligulistylis), and Bergamot (Monarda fistulas) are just three examples of over twenty varieties of pollinator plants used in the creation of this garden.  This space will be a joy to Albany residents and visitors.  James Morgan, Doughtery County ANR agent, is an on-going resource for this group of gardeners.

National Pollinator Week 2016
Photos from the Riverquariam Pollinator Garden in Albany, Georgia
National Pollinator Week 2016
This beautiful space is full of perennials.

Creating a pollinator space of your own aids in pollinator conservation, can increase food production, and brings joy as you watch the pollinators at work.  For resources on creating your own space and to be included in Georgia pollinator history visit the Pollinator Spaces Project webpage.  Your local UGA Cooperative Extension agent can also assist you in planning your garden.

Happy Gardening!