Cultivating a Classroom Garden

by Rebekah Green

With any conventional garden comes a few plants, some flowers, a vegetable or two and usually some pesky weeds poking up beneath the dirt. But what the SSU campus garden has that few other gardens provide is state-of-the-art picnic tables aligned just so for optimum ergonomic comfort. Their presence in the garden is meant to welcome whole classes of students during the academic school year.

Garden coordinator Frederique Lavoipierre has a wide range of influence on various sustainability initiatives in the Campus Community Garden, soon to be re-introduced as the Classroom Garden. She and three paid interns work the soil by weeding, planting seeds and installing a new irrigation system. Volunteers are also welcome to work in the garden on Fridays 10-2, and can can contact garden intern Karissa Westphal at westphak@seawolf.sonoma.edu to get involved.

Lavoipierre says that gardens provide hands-on opportunities for studying not just sustainable landscape practice, but also math and science, literature and nutrition.

“Gardens are an incredible learning environment and that’s one of the reasons why the school garden movement has grown so much,” she says. “It’s very rich in opportunities to learn.”

In fact, Lavoipierre says that gardens have the potential to educate students of all ages, not just K-12 children, as is commonly perceived. “School gardens at universities are largely seen as places to learn how to do sustainable agriculture, and not really gardening. But it is just as useful as a learning environment for other subjects and supports academic learning,” she says.

Lavoipierre says that the garden experience extends to all students, not just those in the Classroom Garden. “You get your hands in the soil and you’re growing some of your food and flowers that you pick and put in your dorm room,” Lavoipierre says. “You start to care about the place you live.”

The garden is located off of W Redwood Drive, past Rachel Carson Hall on the left. Passersby should cross a parking lot for the preschool next door to the garden. For more information, contact Frederique Lavoipierre at lavoipie@sonoma.edu.

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