Blooming Heights Edible Schoolyard & Outdoor Classroom
Since its inception, the Blooming Heights Edible Schoolyard & Outdoor Classroom has offered unique programming within Columbia Heights Public Schools. Over the past two years, staff has worked diligently with the guidance of students, teachers, administrators and community members to craft a mission statement for Blooming Heights that will reflect and guide the strengths of this program.
The intentionality of the Blooming Heights mission and guiding principles have allowed the program to refine its assessments to align with these values and to measure program outcomes more deliberately. Blooming Heights stands out as an example of the kind of innovative programming made possible with the support of administrators, teachers, families, students and School Board members.
“The Blooming Heights mission and guiding principles strive to embody the last eight years of work and to plant seeds to grow future projects and leaders within Columbia Heights Public Schools and beyond,” said Lemon.
Blooming Heights is a Columbia Heights Public Schools program that uses school garden and nutrition programming to facilitate equitable experiences that engage all the senses, while building the skills and knowledge necessary for cultivating a healthy life and planet.
- We are committed to hands-on teaching and learning that highlights beauty, wonder and joy, and encourages positive risk taking.
- We facilitate interactions with the natural world that value both individuality and mutuality.
- We provide professional development and support to educators involved in experiential education.
- We conduct practice-based nutrition curriculum built on the belief that healthy food should taste good and connect eaters to the earth.
- We teach garden skills and knowledge as a lifelong means for self-advocacy and independence.
- We seek to center marginalized voices and to elevate leadership from all members of our community.
- We provide opportunities for personal and cultural connection with the land.
- We believe learning should feel relevant and urgent, inspiring questioning and curiosity.
- We offer multi-age and multi-discipline learning experiences that utilize techniques such as Social Emotional Learning and mindfulness as well as academic content.
About the Garden
Blooming Heights Edible Schoolyard is located behind the Columbia Heights District Center, between the High School and the Family Center, 1440 49th Ave. NE, Columbia Heights. Blooming Heights is within short walking distance from Highland and Valley View elementary schools and Columbia Academy.
What do we grow?
We have both ground level garden beds and a number of raised beds for vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs. In addition to the wide variety of annual vegetables (we had over 100 unique varieties in 2013) we also grow many perennial fruits: raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, hardy kiwi, juneberries, honeyberries, gooseberries and currants (a student favorite!). There is a small orchard with apple, pear, cherry and plums trees, as well as a pergola with hardy grapevines.
Who uses the garden?
Programming at Blooming Heights includes learners from all ages from the Early Childhood Family Education program to students in grades K-12 and extending into adult enrichment classes. Students in our district start seeds in early spring using grow labs in their classrooms and transplant the seedlings outdoors before the end of the school year.
Student involvement is integral to the upkeep of the garden and they help with all planting, weeding, watering, and harvesting. During the summer, K-6th grade students in Adventure Club take most of the responsibility for tending the garden. In addition to planting, watering and weeding, they harvest fruits and vegetables for weekly cooking lessons and run a produce stand at a nearby farmer’s market. Any produce that is not used for cooking or sold at the farmer’s market is preserved for use by the Family and Consumer Science (FACS) classes during the school year or donated to the local food shelf.
View the September 8, 2015 presentation to the School Board where Director of Community Education Kristen Stuenkel and former Agriculture Specialist Bonnie Lohman shared examples of how classes from early childhood through high school are tying lessons in the garden to curriculum. The presentation also includes information about “Topics in Food and Natural Resources,” the new seminars at Columbia Heights High School on agriculture education and careers.
In 2015, the Blooming Heights program was awarded a grant from the Whole Kids Foundation, which is being used to expand garden beds for more space for classes to use for planting and harvesting, and to increase the amount of food that our program donates to the local food shelf SACA. The grant will also be used for purchasing tools and supplies that will allow more students to be engaged in garden programming.
Check out Blooming Heights on Instagram!