Growing School Gardens Summit

Amy and Doug were presenters at the Growing School Gardens Summit in Denver, Colorado, April 22-25. The conference gathered 400 folks together who are invested in school gardens. Those 400 participants represented 6,000 school gardens utilized by 2.5 million students. Among the attendees were three teachers Amy and Doug have worked with in the Cabarrus County School System. We asked them each to reflect on their experience and offer a key take-away to share with FRESH readers.

Amy Bowman: It was wonderful to feel a part of such a positive movement and to feel a part of something much larger. While it was great to reconnect with friends I have made through various training sessions over the years, my biggest take-away was the new connections I made. I am excited to partner with others and learn how they work with their school systems and hope that will enable us to continue to grow this movement.

Doug Vernon: One of my biggest take-aways from the conference was the reminder of how there are numerous entry points to using the garden. For example, we learned ways to cultivate future engineers in the garden by using trellis building to address several curriculum standards while solving a real life garden problem. 

Megan Charlton: The experience and connections I have made this week are incredible! I can’t wait to build more lessons on tasting into my garden lessons with a variety of foods that do not require cooking! I also learned the importance of connecting with all parties involved in school gardens: administrators, teachers, facilities, etc. 

Jill Staton: It was an amazing weekend to meet others and share excitement about the school garden. I was able to gain ideas, contacts, and other community partners. Presenting all of the great stuff we are doing in Cabarrus County was awesome and the feedback we received was amazing.

Jennifer Caligan: Attending the first annual Growing School Gardens Summit was an amazing experience! While networking with others that share the same struggles, same dreams, and new ideas was a HUGE experience, the takeaway that impacted me the most was how the garden can be used as a social and emotional workspace for students AND staff members. I also was able to dive deeper into how to use the garden to celebrate and promote diversity of the cultures within our schools. I can’t wait to start writing grants when my feet hit the school door tomorrow!