Gardening at Mountain Oak School
Mountain Oak School continues to have a thriving gardening program at our new location on Willow Creek Road. Since 1999 Mountain Oak School has had a variety of fruitful gardens.
In 2007, the school used an early childhood block grant to develop a garden, which was used for unstructured nature play and curriculum gardening. A wishing well, an octagonal playhouse, and small wooden bridge were placed side by side with vegetable and flower gardens at our former Virginia Street location. There were stonewalls made by a parent as well as tree-shaded areas for children to imagine the magical world around them.
Most recently this past year in 2011, the entire community of Mountain Oak School came together and created a school garden at Burnin' Daylight Farm in Chino Valley. Beginning in March on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons parents and children gathered to work in a beautiful space where children enjoyed being outside, planting seeds, playing in the garden and singing songs together. Under the care and guidance of farmers Carol Bigham and Sunshine Reilly the children planted peas, radishes, arugula, potatoes, flowers and salad greens. This past fall saw a wonderful harvest of sunflowers in the sunflower house, herbs from the spiral garden, along with tomatoes, cucumbers and watermelon planted by 2010-11 third-grade class taught by Mrs. Craig.
Highlights from the 2011 Mountain Oak School Garden at Burnin' Daylight Farm included:
- Creating a Heritage Garden, 10 rows of 25 feet planted with tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, potatoes, garlic, arugula, salad greens, radishes, watermelon, green beans, peas, kale, kohlrabi, swiss chard, and carrots.
- Creating a Sunflower House
- Creating a Spiral Garden planted with herbs
- Creating a Three Sisters Garden with corn, beans and squash planted together to honor our Native American cultures in the Southwest
- Planting flower bulbs
- Building a composting area
- Building a teepee playhouse
- Starting seeds in trays and nurturing them in the greenhouse for transplanting
Once a month during May, June and July in the summer of 2011 vegetables were harvested from the Mountain Oak School Garden at Burnin' Daylight Farm and sold as a fundraiser at the Prescott Farmers Market with a plan to use that money to develop a beautiful school garden at the new home of Mountain Oak School on Willow Creek Road.
Now that Mountain Oak School has settled into its new site, the parent association and the faculty have formed a garden and grounds committee to develop the 3.8 acres into lovely space for Mountain Oak students to enjoy. The money raised from selling the school’s harvest at the Prescott Farmers Market went to the purchase of two large apple trees, which will planted at the new school site. Also many perennial flowers and herbs were dug out of the school garden at Burnin’ Daylight Farm and transplanted into garden boxes that are set around the new school grounds.
So far this academic year, the 2011-12 third-grade class taught by Ms. Ross planted garlic in November. With the help of parent volunteers, soil was brought from Burnin’ Daylight Farm, a raised bed spiral was created and garlic grown at the previous school garden was lovingly planted in the spiral. As part of the Waldorf inspired traditions, the garlic spiral was covered with straw and pine boughs and used in the Winter Garden event at the end of the Fall 2011 semester.
Through the ongoing support of parents and the active participation of the faculty, the school garden continues to be a vital and magical component of the curriculum and programing at Mountain Oak School, providing an opportunity to grow a love of learning in the sunshine of childhood.