The Campaign’s projects continue to be animated in inventive ways by BBG’s education team, which uses BBG’s gardens as constantly evolving living classrooms for students, teachers, and families to learn about nature. One of the most recent programs developed by BBG educators is Garden Lab, launched in spring 2016, which utilizes the Herb Garden, one of the Campaign’s earliest efforts.
In response to the proliferation of school gardens throughout Brooklyn, BBG educators created a collaborative curriculum to help teachers and students reap the full benefits of tending their new gardens. Garden Lab ties the science of the classroom to the science of the garden through close observation and hands-on experimentation.
This program serves fourth- and fifth-grade teachers and students in Brooklyn Title I schools. Over the course of five months, BBG educators repeatedly visit participating classes to lead lessons on basic botany. In the current curriculum, experiments inspired by the life cycle of radishes are conducted in the classrooms and school gardens. For many students, Garden Lab is an introduction to the origin of their food, and they delight in sampling vegetables that they themselves have grown.
At the end of the program, the classes tour BBG to compare particular gardens’ designs, plantings, and objectives. The Herb Garden and the Children’s Garden serve as particularly rich sites of comparison. While the Children’s Garden features an informal array of edible plants tended by children, the artfully curated Herb Garden showcases edible plants arranged by region and nurtured by curator Maeve Turner. Through their observations, students learn to appreciate both gardens for their unique qualities.
Photos by Sara Epstein.