At Edgewood Middle School in Mounds View, Minn., quality service-learning practice is alive and well. Launched today with an official ribbon-cutting ceremony was Everybody’s Garden Project, a district-wide organic gardening initiative that puts students at the center of operation. Everybody’s Garden Project is one of eleven sites across the Mounds View Public Schools District where students are using academic skills and knowledge to address genuine community needs. In this case, that need is hunger.
A large portion of the produce grown as part of Everybody’s Garden Project will go directly to the Ralph Reeder Food Shelf to provide organic and healthy foods at a place where canned, pre-packaged, and high-sodium food is the norm. The project will foster in students a more intimate and active connection to hunger issues in their community, will provide an opportunity for all students (even as young as kindergartners) to volunteer and contribute to their communities, and will create a unified ground where students of all abilities and socioeconomic backgrounds may make a difference all in the same way.
“With this program, students are bringing service, academic work, and community responsibility together,” said Greg Herder, the Service-Learning Coordinator at Edgewood. “The genesis of the project was a desire to have kids lead and dig into community issues.” In the future, the Service-Learning Department of Mounds View Public Schools Community Education, as partners with students all over the district, hope to expand West-Side school gardens to include available plots for community members usage and to establish a Edgewood Outdoor Education Complex – a place of gardens, forests, and outdoor classrooms – as a site for suburban Farmer’s Markets.