The garden at Everson Elementary does more than produce fresh fruits and vegetables. It also provides a valuable hands-on learning environment for students and gives classes throughout Everson the ability to take ownership of caring for something they value.
The 2023 edition of the Everson Elementary garden recently got off to a rousing start with a work party, led by parent and community volunteers, a vital piece of keeping the garden running throughout the summer.
Started about four years ago, Everson previously partnered with Bellingham-based organization Common Threads to operate the garden. Since the pandemic, Everson staff and volunteers have taken care of the garden with teachers and students handling the planting each spring.
"The garden is all volunteer," says Maddy Libolt, an Everson fifth-grade teacher. "The recent garden work party was organized by one of our parent volunteers. During the summer it is all volunteers that come to care and water the garden."
Classes take care of the beds and sign up to plant and care for areas of the garden throughout the spring. In the summer, teachers, families from the school and summer school classes water and harvest.
But the value to the students extends beyond caring for a garden.
"Students are able to engage in hands-on, authentic learning experiences in the garden," Libolt says. "The work done in the garden connects with science and math curriculum at many grade levels. It is also something that we are working on as a collective project with not only our students but families too. It helps build not only our classroom communities but our school community."