GROW participants visit CUH and the UW Farm

June 3rd, 2011 by Barbara Selemon

May Fieldtrips

Chickens made a big impression

The two days that GROW high school students visited CUH and
the UW Farm were full of sunshine. Students from Susan Barth’s horticulture class at Nova High School and students from Jessica Torvik’s horticulture/ecology classes were introduced to resources for their GROW projects through scheduled tours and activities. Maggie Roses’ science classes from Ingraham focused on working with Lisa
Haglund and Patrick Mulligan on the site prep and plant installation in the
newly restored storm water garden at CUH.

Lisa Haglund is an undergraduate in Community, Environment and Planning
and has taken on the redesign and installation of part of the storm water
garden at CUH.   For most students this was their first visit to the Center for Urban Horticulture.  A main function of the GROW program is to engage high school students with the UW Botanic Gardens through the environmental education department at the Washington Park Arboretum.

Ingraham students work with UW students and staff at CUH

These field trips provided an opportunity to interact with faculty, students and staff and see how outdoor research is conducted and how undergraduates are engaged through projects and farm education at the university.  They also could take back new knowledge and ideas in constructing their school gardens.

CUH tours and activities

Tours led by Restoration Ecologist Dr. Kern Ewing and gardener, Annie Bilotta, introduced them to research and display of plants found at  CUH. Nathan Hale students toured UBNA for 1 1/2 hr., learning about native grasses versus introduced grasses, the benefit of shading to minimize invasive weed species, the survival of oaks post fire and where and how native prairie species thrive.  Annie introduced them to the variety of plants demonstrated in the rain, fragrance and Soest gardens.

Nathan Hale students get a lesson in UBNA

Nova students were introduced to Rare Care and the Miller Seed Vault by Wendy Gibble. After a mere few minutes in the vault, the students were eager to get back outside to a warmer environment. Miller Librarians Carrie Bowman and Tracy Mehlin gave overview tours of the library and a few students came away borrowing books from the loaner collection.

Interaction with UW undergraduates

While all students spent a small portion of the visit helping Lisa Haglund prep the site for the storm water garden, Ingraham students made this the focus of their trip to CUH.  Not having a site on their school grounds to implement their own rain garden, they were bussed to CUH for a day of helping Lisa and Patrick work on her senior project.

Ingraham students help remove sod from stormwater site

Using shovels and Hori Horis to remove sod, students assisted in the clearing of unwanted weeds and grass prior to the installation of selected native plant species to be planted in the deep depressions that collect storm water runoff.

UW students from Lily Nash's class serve up lessons to Nathan Hale students

UW Farm students led Nova and Nathan Hale students on tours and students from Lilly Nash’s class led interactive sessions on soil structure, permaculture, plant identification (treasure hunt) and chicken farming to Nathan Hale students.  There was high adventure when one chicken escaped being held by a Nova student and fled far beneath a spiny holly hedge. Luckily, the UW farm student was practiced in rounding up chickens and getting them safely back to their coop. More than anything else, the chickens impressed the students and I heard pleas for the teachers to allow chickens at their schools.

Nova students learn how to grab and move chickens

Benefits of Field Trips

Funding that was provided through the GROW program enabled Ingraham and Nathan Hale students to visit the university. A major obstacle in having high school students participate in environmental learning with the UW Botanic Gardens is transportation and time away from classes. The teachers were thankful to have their students learn outside of the classroom and their students got to view actual research sites, learn about seed saving techniques, interact with undergraduates at the UW (senior project, farm student lessons) and discover the Miller Library loan system.  For the UW Botanic Gardens, the reward may be the lure of future students interested in restoration, conservation, ecology and/or horticulture.


Nova students learn about soil structure

Students view the cobb oven used by UW farm students to make pizza

Who are the G.R.O.W. participants? A profile of Nathan Hale students

April 29th, 2011 by Barbara Selemon
greenhouse image
hanging baskets lined up in greenhouse

Students in Jessica Torvik’s Horticulture/Ecology classes meet in the Nathan Hale High School greenhouse on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.   The new site for horticulture classes is a few minutes’ walk from the main school building,
across the street and up the hill.  As they arrive, the students take the initiative to begin doing tasks assigned to
them in their working groups.   This day, they were also preparing to start making hanging baskets for their upcoming plant sale.  As an observer of the greenhouse activities,  I wanted to know why students signed up to take this class and what it is about gardening that they like.

For some, there is a connection to family.  For Colin, his mother was the impetus for him
to take the class since gardening is a major hobby of hers.  He finds that plants are a way for them to bond. For Emmy, her grandparents, who are members of the American Rhododendron Society, passed along  their interest in plants to her.  She sees herself working with plants in the near future, possibly having a small garden of her own at college.

For others, the class is fun to take.  For Michael, it is a break from being inside of a classroom.  He enjoys deadheading  the plants because it is easy and relaxing. Chris is taking the class because it is fun and accessible.  He especially likes working in groups and is the leader of his table group.

Farin and Andy are taking the class because they like the teacher.  In fact, many  tudents told me that their friends had taken the class and that is why they signed up as well.  A few students mentioned that working with plants was special to them in other ways.  For  Jasper, he likes watering plants in the greenhouse because he can experience a change in the environment when there is water in the atmosphere and on the floor.  Felisha enjoys working with  nature and not doing a lot of writing in class. Her favorite task is transplanting plants.  Faye believes that horticulture class is great for many students, since the learning is both visual and tactile and reaches those who learn in a different way.  Richard and Kenny are taking the class a second time around.  Richard enjoys learning the names of plants and says that there is an endless amount of knowledge to learn still about plants.  For Kenny, he’s hoping to grow watermelons and grapes in the school farm, but will settle for
the lima beans which were one of his favorites last year.

Green house image
Daily watering tasks

The UW Botanic Gardens is partnering with Nathan Hale horticulture classes as well as with students at Nova High School, Ingraham High School and Garfield Teen Center in the area through the Garden-based
Restoration and Outreach Workshops (G.R.O.W.) program.  The Nathan Hale students will undertake a
transformation of an empty site outside of the greenhouse into a farm where
they will grow vegetables.  Site prep and planting have begun and will continue throughout the spring semester.

Nathan Hale Horticulture will be selling their organic hanging baskets, vegetable starts, and bedding plants at their greenhouse site located just north of Jane Addams K-8 School (11051 34th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98125) next month at the following days and times.

May 4 & 5 (WED AND THURS)–2 PM to 6 PM
May 6 (FRI)–1 PM to 6 PM
May 7 (SAT)-9 AM to 1 PM

Garden-based Restoration and Outreach Workshops (GROW Program): An Introduction

April 19th, 2011 by Barbara Selemon

I am excited to announce that the UW Botanic Gardens received a grant from the Jiji Foundation that has made it possible for the Education staff at the Washington Park Arboretum to reach high school students, an audience currently underserved by our environmental education program.  Thanks to this generous gift this school year, the Garden-based Restoration and Outreach Workgroups (G.R.O.W.) Program was launched in January, 2011 and is actively engaged with three high school classes and one after school teen center program.

The Washington Park Arboretum conducts programs at the Arboretum through their Seedlings and Saplings Program for elementary and middle school students.   As a subset of the newly designed Spruce Program, which focuses on high-school learning, the G.R.O.W. program reaches out to students at their school in recognition that the high school schedule doesn’t allow much time for field trips.  Therefore, the program coordinator visits the school sites and works as a resource manager for each project in the making.

Currently, students in Jessica Torvik’s Horticulture/Ecology classes at Nathan Hale High School are involved in creating a farm to produce organic vegetables on a site surrounding their newly built greenhouse.   Susan Barth’s horticulture class at Nova High School is involved in enhancing a site next to their raised vegetable beds that will invite students to sit down and enjoy the sights and smells of the garden.  Students enlisted in Maggie Rose’s horticulture classes at Ingraham High School will be working on a storm water/rain garden installation at the Center for Urban Horticulture under the guidance of Lisa Haglund, who is utilizing this site as her senior project in completion of a degree in Community, Environment and Planning.  Garfield Teen Center is a public afterschool program that offers a variety of classes to teens, such as music composition and comic book illustration.  Students here will be planting a water farm indoors to grow vegetables for harvest and enjoyment.

As Program Coordinator, I visit each school group and work with them on an individualized plan to learn basic horticulture and specific knowledge related to their projects.   I act as a resource for them to help design and create their garden and to select the right plant for the right place.  Field trips are being planned to the Center for Urban Horticulture and the UW Farm on upper campus during which time the students will partake in a service project as well as tour the sites.   Meanwhile, students will be working on site assessments, soil analyses and plant selection and installation throughout the spring.  By mid-June, projects should be going strong or have had a very good beginning.

By Barbara Selemon

GROW Program Coordinator