- Serves students in K-5
- Garden space is 90′ x 40′
- Has a sensory garden that is all encompassing
- Garden activities developed for each grade level
- Multiple stake holders involved in the garden project
- Garden activities tied to state standards
- Families involved in caring for gardens in summer months
Westside Elementary School’s garden is located directly in the center of their school playground. The garden space is approximately 90′ x 40′. They have a sensory garden that contains a beautiful combination of grasses, wildflowers, sunflowers and other annuals, vegetables, and herbs. They have also incorporated an ‘outdoor’ classroom space, that includes interactive chimes, and a weaving loom designed to allow for sensory experiences and instruction. Water sources are readily available and the school district has committed to establishing rainwater reservoirs near the garden as a future water source. In their school garden, they have planted perennial wild grasses and wildflowers and plan to extend the garden with herbs and berries. Their raised bed gardens host annual flowers and vegetables. Westside Elementary houses River Falls School District’s summer school classes. Students participating in summer school enjoy the summer harvest. Westside students and staff enjoy the fall harvest. In addition to students, their garden is open to Westside families and local community members. Gardening offers hands-on, experiential learning opportunities. All students are involved in planning and maintaining the garden. Kindergarten students plant sunflowers, study the plants, and measure plant growth, first graders study the bees and other insects that come to pollinate and visit the flowers, while fourth-graders plant a traditional Native American ‘Three Sisters’ garden. The blueprint of the garden was designed using federal guidelines for wheelchair accessibility. Not only do children with physical disabilities have easy access to enjoy the garden, but children with emotional needs also benefit from planned restorative justice circles and counseling sessions adjacent to the garden.
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