School Gardens & Outdoor Learning

We work with only a handful of schools at a time and offer customized design and program planning. We commit a 3-year focus to each of our schools and together we create an outdoor learning program that can be sustained. We are available on an as needed basis after our initial 3-year commitment.

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Process

Step 1: Community Intake and Inventory

We offer a unique approach by taking the time needed to understand all natural and human resources available within each school. We listen to ideas and dreams while scouting for skills and funding opportunities within each community. As we are preparing to grow, we are always conscious of what is needed to sustain whatever we dream of creating.  In this initial stage- we document dreams, inventory assets, and cultivate connections.

Step 2: Site Analysis

We offer the framework and support for students to survey their own grounds, analyze their resources and barriers, and identify relationships. This stage of discovery and documentation offer lessons in data collection, math, mapping, orienteering, writing and botany. This second stage seeds a sense of ownership for both students and teachers.  Knowledge is indeed power and ideas seem to spring forth as information is gathered.

Step 3: Design

We are collaborative designers.  We facilitate design workshops for students and teachers and together we work through each stage of design.  We begin with conceptual design and gradually layer in details of form, flow and function.  We not only design space, but we design the systems needed to support that space.  The design process includes careful thought as to how each space and system lends itself to curriculum and learning opportunities.

Step 4: Project Work

This exciting stage not only builds gardens and opportunities, it builds a new culture within a school. By this point in the process, many hours have gone in and a sense of ownership has been cultivated as a school community comes together to create and celebrate. This is a special time marked with distinct success in collectively building something tangible that people can literally sink their hands in to.  Plantology brings project management experience and the local connections needed for a successful and cost-effective building project.

Step 5: Curriculum & Culture

As the saying goes… If you build it they will come.  Plantology offers teacher support in lesson planning and direct assistance in the garden.  Our curriculum mapping is directly tied to the standards of each school and we offer guidance in selecting grade appropriate lessons given the physical characteristic of each school ground.  Further, we support teachers in bringing these lessons to life and assist in developing a new culture around learning outdoors.  The first year is filled with excitement and students are energized by this new opportunity to learn outdoors. Initially it is like taking a field trip on campus. Extra support is needed in creating a safe and respectful learning environment in this new context. We offer support to each school as they settle into their new digs and begin to associate their school grounds as a different type of classroom, with the same rules and expectations that occur when learning indoors.

Step 6: Sustainability Plan

The final stage of our work is creating a plan that allows school grounds and gardens to thrive long term. We discuss funding and maintenance while forming partnerships with local organizations and businesses.  Portland is a beautiful place filled with generous people- our work is not done until a fabric has been created to preserve all that we have built together over three years.  Our goal is to connect schools with all that they need to succeed and maintain long term.