The Global Gardens program in Tulsa, Oklahoma, operates two Title 1 schools – Rosa Parks Elementary and Eugene Field Elementary. We started our garden at Eugene Field in April 2007, and at the Rosa Parks in April 2008.
Our gardens are each made up of approximately 30 individual plots that either belong to entire classes or individual students in the after school program. Each garden is different and what is grown is based on the interests of the “owners” of the plot. However we focus on growing organic fruits and veggies like tomatoes, Swiss chard, lettuce, radishes, cucumbers, melons, etc. We also have plenty of flowers including giant sunflowers, hardy hibiscus and marigolds. Our mint grows like wild and we also plant other herbs including, chives, oregano and rosemary.
While our staff and volunteers manage the gardens, the real work is in the hands of the students. They are responsible for all aspects of the garden – planning, planting, weeding, watering and harvesting. This is made possible by partnering with the classrooms to facilitate garden education weekly during the school day and offering a free after school program for 60 students. The garden is a community garden! While community members are welcome any day we facilitate special “community days” in the garden one weekend each month during the growing season.
We believe that while there are many benefits of a community garden our goal is to empower our students to be agents of change in their communities. Our communities have benefited by having the opportunity to be involved in creating something in their neighborhood that they have full ownership in. It has given much meaning to our students and their families. It has created a safe haven where students can work alongside one another. It has benefited our students academically - giving support to their classroom work and providing hands-on, inquiry-based science experience. It has increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and has encouraged our students to choose healthy options during the school day. A major challenge has been the transience that is typical of the communities. We are committed to investing in our students as individuals and have been disappointed as several of our students have moved, often without warning. While of course the summer months can pose problems for some school-based programs, we have made it a priority to sustain our gardens. Summer is such an important time for us to be in the garden! We facilitate summer programs, which are open to the 60 students involved in the after school program. The summer program runs the length of the summer with one week off on either side of the break.
The following are some of the testimonials from the Global Gardens community in Tulsa, OK.
“We have Global Gardens to help unite people. It gives the word ‘community’ more meaning.”
- 5th grade student
“It is important for people to be able to see the garden and the wonders we have worked on there.” - 3rd grade student
"Each child who participates in Global Gardens is a better writer, a better problem solver and a better community member.”
- Principal Karen Vance, Rosa Parks Elementary.
“The test scores at Eugene Field have steadily improved over the past five years – this year there was a dramatic jump of over 600 points. There are many factors contributing to our success but I know that our Global Gardens program has had a significant impact on our students. The community garden has provided consistency as well as opportunities for reading, writing, math, science and social studies. “
- Principal Cindi Hemm, Eugene Field Elementary
“I have seen a major change in my son's self confidence. I want to thank you for all that you and your staff do with these kids. My son talks about it at our apartments and tells our neighbors all that he does. The students enjoy the responsibility of being in charge of some activity or cleaning up in the garden. I think that there is so much more that you can teach my son and I look forward to watching and listening to him go on about Global Gardens. Thank you again”
– Global Gardens parent
"Global Gardens is a community where children make gardens, class gardens and do arts and crafts. They have lots of fun learning, doing experiments and etc. Many things to do are easy and some are not. Why do I like it you ask? I like it because I get to have my own garden and a class garden. Plus I get to share with others. It is really fun to do, but very hard work. That’s what I like about it, all the work!! It’s worth it after you have that beautiful garden. Plus it taught me many things since I’ve been there, like patience, knowledge, and other things. I want you to know that Global Gardens is about building friendships and having fun. When I first came, I felt like I was at home, I felt welcome. And because of that it gave me confidence and I worked hard to build a garden and succeeded."
– 5th grade student
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