Thanks to the support of students, parents, elected officials, and local community organizations, there’ll soon be more than just a tree that grows in Brooklyn.
Founded by Community Education Council 15’s (CEC 15) co-Vice President, Kathy Park Price, Garden Train is a public, district-based community group of parents, teachers, and community members who nurture and oversee school gardens throughout District 15. Garden Tree members meet monthly, and they collaborate with one another in person and through online discussions in support of their collective gardening efforts.
The consortium, which has support from CEC 15, the DOE, elected officials, local businesses, community organizations, and the City’s Grow to Learn initiative, seeks to develop and support school communities who believe in the educational, environmental, and social value of public school gardens for students and their communities.
“First and foremost, school gardens build strong community ties and foster collaboration among students, teachers, parents, and neighbors,” said Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “District 15 is a leader in using school gardens to provide hands-on learning environments that teach students important lessons on nutrition, sustainability, and science.”
“Grow to Learn is always proud to help schools start and expand existing gardens, whether it’s on a windowsill or an empty lot, because gardens grow communities,” said Kristin Fields, director of Grow to Learn. “Seeing CEC 15 band together to share best practices and resources is an exciting next step for Brooklyn’s school garden community, and it is a model we hope other neighborhoods in our Grow to Learn network will consider as well.”
Currently, no other district-focused school gardens consortium exists in the City, but Garden Train hopes to set an example for other school districts.
In addition to serving as a way for members to share knowledge and support one another, Garden Train hopes to receive financial support from local elected officials, businesses, and community organizations to provide gardening services and tools to its members. Among the Garden Train’s plans is the creation of a garden tool storage repository that members could use to develop and maintain their school gardens. Another proposed plan is for the Garden Train to provide free soil testing to its members. The consortium is even exploring the possibility of hosting a district-wide “garden crawl” that would open up District 15’s school gardens to visitors for fun, “open house”-style events.
District 15-based school garden leaders who are interested in joining the Garden Train can send a request to Kathy Park Price at kathyparkpriceCEC15@gmail.com.
Finally, would you like to help start a garden at your own City school? Check out Grow to Learn’s Resource page for gardening tips, funding ideas, curricula, training videos, and more!