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2020 Budding Botanist Winners

Budding Botanist 2020 Winners
Gardeners from Windsor Elementary

The Klorane Botanical Foundation and KidsGardening are honored to announce the winners of the 2020 Budding Botanist grant program. The twelve grants were awarded to school-based educational programs focused on teaching students respect for the environment and the importance of protecting nature through the preservation of plant species and biodiversity. The ultimate goal of the Budding Botanist Grant is to support programs designed to inspire our youngest citizens to value and protect their local ecosystems hoping to cultivate a generation of advocates for our planet. Here is an introduction to some of this year’s winners:

FAIR Pilgrim Lane School (Plymouth, MN)

FAIR Pilgrim Lane School will be installing a brand new garden that will include raised beds for heirloom vegetables varieties, 300 square feet of native Minnesota plants to support pollinators, a spiral herb garden, and an outdoor classroom space all surrounded by a living native garden fence comprised of an assortment of native berry and nut shrubs.

“Within the pollinator garden the students will be planting species that are native to our region giving them the opportunity to monitor the growth of common pollinators and less known species as well,” explains Garden Committee Chair Cerissa Stockton. “Along the perimeter of the garden space the students will monitor and nurture the growth of berry and nut bushes. These bushes will create a natural living fence that will eventually grow and feed our students snacks in the summer months. Our next area of learning will be a spiral recycled brick bed that will be dedicated to herbs. This garden bed will give our youngest students the opportunity to explore plants through smell and touch. Annual and perennial herbs will be hosted in this space so students can study how these plants can over winter in our growing climate. Lastly, 12 raised beds will be built to host heirloom variety vegetables, fruit, and flowers.

We aim to inspire our school community to plant their own native gardens, by showcasing the beauty of native plants. Our varied list of plants was selected to provide color and beauty throughout the year. In addition to carefully planning the selection of plants, we plan to make our garden engaging and educational for students and their families by providing educational signage throughout the garden, and by adding artistic elements to the garden, given our school's art focus. In the future we plan to engage local artists, as well as students, to create artistic features for the garden, and ultimately make it a unique expression of our school.”

MS 915 (Brooklyn, NY)
MS 915, in partnership with Brooklyn Bridge Park horticulturalists, is creating a “natural oasis” in the heart of their urban community. The space will feature native trees and shrubs, a designated space for food crops, and an outdoor classroom.

This new garden space is being installed to replace a previous garden at the school that had been maintained for over 30 years, but had to be removed due to soil contamination.

Parents Association President Ansley Samson shares that the new garden will include three key design elements of our design. “First, we will build an arbor/seating space at the south end of our garden, with seating and shade, designed to allow for a full class of middle or high school students and teachers

to engage in outdoor lessons. Second, in both the northern and southern sections of our garden, we will plant trees, shrubs and herbaceous material native to this region of the country with a view to increasing our building’s sustainability, supporting habitat for birds and beneficial insects, and providing opportunities for growing students’ awareness of native plants, urban ecosystems, and the benefits they provide. Third, in the shadier, northern section of our garden, we will create a small group seating and table space to facilitate student group work and reading in a narrow ‘natural oasis’ in our otherwise quite urban setting.”

The school is developing a myriad of ways in which the garden will supplement and enrich their students’ classroom experience. “Several curricular connections we have identified are part of our "explorations" program. Two times each year, MS 915 students engage in a deep, two-week study of one of our planet’s problems. Students read, talk to experts in the field, interact with the community, and visit some of the many cultural, historical, and educational institutions of New York City. Our exploration units make learning real and meaningful for our students and help us achieve our goal of preparing students to be creative and critical thinkers who have a positive impact on our planet.  These explorations allow our students opportunities to connect with advocates and community members working on similar projects through New York City; students share what they are learning with these partners as part of exploration programming. In addition, each exploration unit concludes with an ‘expo’ in which students share with their families what they have learned, by presenting culminating projects.”

Northeast High School (Philadelphia, PA)
Participants in a year-long agriculture course offered at Northeast High School plan to implement an all new, student-designed aquaponic system. Led by Marc Michaels, the school’s Natural Resource Management Coordinator, the garden program is part of course work designed to help prepare students for future educational and career opportunities after graduation. Complementing an existing greenhouse with raised beds, the new aquaponics system will introduce students to the latest in agricultural technology.

Marc shares that he hopes “Our garden will promote a lifelong culture of environmental sustainability by teaching students how to cultivate and maintain edible gardens. We will be teaching students how to grow vegetables and herbs in an aquaponic system to provide food for their own tables at home as well as to sell to the community. We plan on using a biodiverse system to grow as many products as possible and look forward to using every aspect of the plants, including cultivating the seeds from the plants themselves to reuse for the next crop of produce.”  The aquaponics system will demonstrate innovation in sustainable agriculture as students see how the fish provide organic fertilizer for the plants and then the grower is able to harvest both the plants and the animals for food.

Here is a snapshot of the rest of our amazing 2020 Budding Botanist winners:

Austin-East Magnet High School (Knoxville, TN)
Austin-East Magnet High School’s comprehensive new garden will include a food forest, composting operation, seasonal ponding rain garden, native shade garden, raised beds, and a teaching area, all surrounded by a border of perennial pollinators.

Central Junior High (Springdale, AR)
Students in Central Junior High’s agriculture program will be working on a series of advanced programs to implement a biogas digester and ultralow irrigation system in their garden space.

Imago Dei Middle School (Tucson, AZ)
Imago Dei Middle School is excited to add aquaponics and hydroponics units to their garden programming.

New Road School of Ocean County (Lakewood, NJ)
New Road School hopes to double the size of their garden, install a polycarbonate greenhouse, and integrate an aquaponic system into their programming.

Pa’auilo Elementary and Middle School (Pa’auilo, HI)
Pa’auilo Elementary and Middle School looks to revitalize an old greenhouse, transforming it into an outdoor classroom space that will accommodate all grade levels participating in garden-based programming.

Red Cloud Indian School (Pine Ridge, SD)
Students at Red Cloud Indian School are working towards the creation of a school farm with the goal of providing produce to their cafeteria and student-led farmers market, while simultaneously promoting a connection to and knowledge of Lakota culture.

Siren School District (Siren, WI)
The Siren School Garden will be focusing on acquiring season extension infrastructure and fencing to protect their raised bed garden from animal predation and to prolong the growing season.

Walnut Hill Elementary (Omaha, NE)
In partnership with a community-based nonprofit, Walnut Hill Elementary has plans to install raised beds and grow an assortment of vegetables, fruits, herbs, and native pollinators, a process that will be intricately connected to classroom learning.

Windsor Elementary (Columbia, SC)
Windsor Elementary’s new garden space will include native trees, grasses, and shrubs, as well as an assortment of houses for nesting birds commonly found in their area.