Two thumbs up to Matt Wilkinson, a physical education teacher at Princeton Public High School in New Jersey. In addition to being a former wresting coach, Mr. Wilkinson also has a background in horticulture. Instead of mainstream physcial education class, his students have the option to take “gardening”. Now this is not a “wimp out” as anyone who has engaged in some serious gardening knows it is hard physical work. The students tend to 15 raised beds, seeding , weeding , turning compost, and harvesting. Extra food is donated to soup kitchens and others in need. In addition, the gardens are also used academically to teach students in other departments. For example, the Science Dept. is studying plants that are best for preventing erosion; the Foreign Language Dept. chose seeds to be planted that are related to various culinary traditions; the Guidance Dept. selected plants and are studying those that yield relaxing aromas.
”We’re giving our students another option to mainstream physical education,” Mr. Wilkinson said. “How long is somebody going to play basketball or soccer? Gardening they can do their whole lives.”
To read the article, click: http://greeninc.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/26/high-school-gardening-for-credit/
Phase I of my herb garden
Although global warming is a hot topic (pun intended) and the green movement focuses on protecting our earth’s resources, protecting nature and animals is not a new concept. St. Francis of Assisi, patron Saint of Animals and the environment strongly believed in the concept and he put it into practice in his everyday life. Per legend, on his death bed he thanked his donkey for carrying and helping him throughout his life and his donkey wept. St. Francis believed it is our duty as stewards of God’s creations to protect and enjoy animals and nature. I agree.
I feel we can help do this by reducing, or preferably eleminating altogether, toxic chemicals on our lawns. We can also incorporate more edibles into our landscaping, thus reducing fossil fuels etc. used to transport food great distances. Not to mention if we grow more of our own food, using organic methods, we save money, the food is tastier than food that has been prematurely harvested then shipped great distances, and it is healthier for our families. The added bonus is that it also helps this one and only great earth of ours. So get down and dirty and do some gardening!
The visuals and creativity that went into this blog post by Maira Kalman is just absolutely amazing and thought provoking. It starts off with lovely pictures, then on down in the post it features her illustrations. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom to check out Kalman’s previous posts links on American democracy. I really love this! To check it out, click on the title above or the link that follows: http://kalman.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/e-pluribus-unum/
Maira Kalman is an author, illustrator, and designer who lives in NYC and teaches courses on design at the school of visual arts. She has written and illustrated 12 children’s books and her artwork is featured in a current edition of Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”.
To read the entire article in Times Magazine on edible landscaping and Fritz Haeg, click: The Incredible, Edible Front Lawn – TIME
A grassroots movement towards edible landscaping is taking hold, but it is not really a new concept. Back in 1942, as the United States emerged from the Great Depression and mobilized for WWII, Agricultural Sec. Claude R. Wickard encouraged Americans to plant what what was then called “Victory Gardens”. Soon gardens began popping up not just on Americans lawns, but also in unusual places such as a downtown parking lot in New Orleans and a zoo in Portland. Now, in our modern day and age, we are seeing more and more people returning to the concept of a “useful” lawn of edibles since our economy has been on a downturn.
Los Angeles based architect, Fritz Haeg, launched a campaign back in 7/2005 urging people to trade in their ornamental lawns “for artistic arrangements of organic produce”.
I really hope the concept of edible lawns catches on like wildfire. Haeg believes, and I agree with him, that the “hyper-manicured lawn” is out of date and “a chemically treated and verdant but nutritionally barren lawn seems wasteful”. Back in 1943 Americans planted 20.5 million Victory Gardens and grew nearly one-third of the vegetables consumed in our country that year. I feel we can help ourselves save a buck by doing this, plus we help preserve our earth by reducing chemicals used to grow food and reduce fuel consumption to transport it great distances. We also eat healthier. So here’s to edible lawns!