The vegetable garden enters the classrooms at Agora International School Madrid
Protecting the environment is a fundamental issue in today’s society; the awareness that many materials are finite, and the growing concern to leave a more sustainable world for future generations, is leading to new measures and strategies for direct intervention in caring for the environment. With this premise and with the intention of making pupils responsible for growing their own food, the school garden at Agora International School Madrid was born, an activity which provides them with excitement and learning. At the same time, the school garden encourages contact with nature, provides them with real and tangible knowledge of where food comes from, the best of Biology lessons, and promotes healthy and balanced eating, without the use of chemical products.
In this educational context of protecting and raising awareness about caring for our environment, María José Palacios Martín, secondary biology teacher at the school, tells us that for the 2021-2022 school year, the activity in the school garden will be extended: “for next year, we would like to create a timetable in which infants, primary and the first years of secondary school can participate”.
The school garden, the best lesson in life
Watering the garden when necessary, clearing the garden of weeds and rubbish, harvesting the crops, planting the seedlings, sowing different species and watching the plants grow and seeing how the flowers bear fruit. These are some of the many lessons the pupils learn in contact with the garden.
Discovering that tomatoes need a lot of sun and water like peppers or strawberries is a life lesson that will remain etched in the retina of all the pupils who pass through the garden. Having the opportunity to see how the birds that hang around the school feed on the aubergines in the garden is the best way to learn about the cycle of life.
In the last school year, Palacios Martín says, “the 4th year Primary pupils discovered the passage of time by planting chickpeas. The children in 1st ESO learn at first hand about the biological cycle of plants, and at the same time as they learn about it in the classroom with books, they go to the vegetable garden and discover from the germination of the seeds until the plant bears fruit. The pupils in the 2nd and 4th ESO years form part of the Eco Group, which is responsible for making and creating the posters and information sheets on the different species, which can be read using the QR code. These classes are also planning to build a greenhouse with plastic bottles, giving a second life to waste”.
María García-Muñoz García, Secondary Physics and Chemistry and Ethical Values teacher, adds that “IB students and members of the ECO-Group helped with the design and preparation of the land. Several Primary and 1ºESO groups were in charge of growing the first plants (tomatoes, chickpeas, aubergines, carrots, etc.) in small seedbeds and, once they germinated, they transplanted them into the garden. Maintenance and watering is being carried out with different classes in Ethical Values, Biology and Tutoring sessions, for example. Some of the knowledge the pupils are acquiring through this activity are: biological concepts and processes related to reproduction and the plant cycle, the diversity and respective needs of each plant, respect and commitment to the environment, among others…”.
Benefits of having a school garden
- Encourage direct contact with the earth, its needs and possibilities.
- Learn to appreciate what nature gives us if we take care of it and respect it, creating bonds of affection with the natural environment.
- To value the importance of consuming fresh vegetables and fruit grown by oneself.
- Learn to consume water responsibly and not to waste it.
- To study, from a scientific point of view, the process of development of living beings: from birth to death (in this case, of plants).
- To enjoy a natural environment even when living in a city.
- To encourage cooperative attitudes, through teamwork, for the good maintenance of the school garden.
In this way we educate the pupils of our school for life by encouraging collaboration, in contact with their surroundings and nature and by discovering the cycle of life.