February 2012, Volume 16, Number 1


Planting Seeds of Sustainability

Bringing sustainability lessons to life on campus and in the community, MDC’s Earth Ethics Institute (EEI) recently teamed with a garden brigade from Tucker Elementary School to spread greenery and joy.

The inaugural plant giveaway encouraging healthy students and a healthy planet helps achieve the MDC Learning Outcomes goal of creating lifelong learners attuned to their impact on the environment.

Small Gardens, Big Impact

“Tucker is one of six schools EEI works with on organic gardens,” said Heidi Lellelid, an MDC AmeriCorps VISTA member serving as coordinator of both EEI’s garden program in Miami-Dade County Public Schools and MDC’s popular Community-Rooted Organic Produce Services (CROPS). The plots Tucker students tend yield everything from tomatoes and Swiss chard to carrots and kale.

Besides environmental lessons, the MDC initiative also teaches children entrepreneurial skills. Tucker students sell what they’ve harvested and put the money back into the garden.

”The gardens teach children  from a very early age the triple bottom line of sustainable development – that environmental awareness can be good for people, place and profits,” said EEI Director Colleen Ahern-Hettich.

Tucker’s first farmers market in November sold out in less than 10 minutes. The garden also provides herbs for the school cafeteria.

“The kids love the garden and now talk to me about all types of herbs,” said Tucker Librarian Margie Stutz, who created the green brigade of third, fourth and fifth graders after taking a free EEI workshop at MDC for K-12 teachers that shows them how to set up an organic school garden while they complete Florida educational requirements for science.

MDC Students Learn, Too

In addition to the benefits to the children and teachers, college students in the MDC Yes for Environmental Sustainability (YES) club complete service-learning hours while volunteering at the school gardens, making the fun work a win-win endeavor for the entire community.

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