The Habitat Garden at Franklin elementary school provides children with an outdoor environment for learning about horticulture, wildlife and how to better protect our earth. It also provides the teachers with an outdoor classroom to supplement their teaching of math, science, writing and art. The children meet monthly in the fall and spring to plant annuals, perennials and vegetables in the garden as well as weed and rake to maintain it. They also "turn the compost" and do crafts and other activities related to learning about nature and gardening. The garden has several different areas which are connected by a series of paths which allow the children to more easily navigate and explore. It is Wildlife Certified and has a dedicated area for composting as well as an outdoor weather station. During the school year, several classrooms learned about composting and contributed items from their homes to three garden composters. The butterfly section of the garden has shrubs and perennials that attract butterflies and a small butterfly house. The sensory section has four dedicated boxes for sight, taste, smell and touch and encourages the children to identify the different smells and textures. The children are growing broccoli, tomatoes, carrots, peas, beets, brussel sprouts and radishes and had their first harvest in June which was celebrated with a vegetable tasting. The garden also provides a place for the community to enjoy during non-school hours, with several benches for seating and a nice environment to read a book or have lunch.
Photo courtesy of Patrick Bones, 2009 America in Bloom judge. (The judges loved this garden stop on their tour last year!)