After completing classes virtually for 2 ½ months, many students and parents were looking for an alternative for summer school. Silverwood Park had offered a face-to-face summer school over the past seven years, but due to social distancing requirements for Covid, that was not an option this year. Barb Gausman, a retired teacher and Friends of Silverwood Park Vice-President, sought permission from Edgerton School District to offer a course that involved not just children, but their families. One parent reported, “We loved this course, especially during quarantine. It always felt like a safe place to be.”
Friends of Silverwood Park provided a section of the grower area devoted to summer school gardens. Each family was allowed to use a 10 by 30 foot section, which was physically separated by at least 6 feet from other gardens. Children and their parents planned their garden; purchased transplants and seeds; maintained their garden by watering and weeding; and best of all, harvested the produce from their gardens.
Twenty-five families and over 30 children, ages 5 to 12, were involved in this year’s course, Gardening to Harvesting @Silverwood. Some families had gardening experience; many did not. Information about planning, planting, and maintaining, as well as science, literacy, and nature activities, was provided via Google Classroom.
Weekly, students could log into Zoom to hear children’s gardening books read aloud, as well as discuss their garden’s progress. Students were encouraged to journal their gardening experience and devote at least 40 hours between June and August to working in their gardens and enjoying the park.
In response to the survey question, When did your child feel successful? one parent noted: “1st: when she got things planted in the garden. 2nd: when she harvested and TASTED her first tomato. 3rd: when she harvested her first ripe green bean and liked the taste of fresh garden bean. :)”
My child learned: “That gardens are hard work, but you get out what you put into it. And it’s a beautiful way to connect with nature.”
Parent comments about the gardening course included: “We loved it! I personally found it therapeutic, surrounded by nature and gardening. We learned more about Silverwood Park than we ever knew in our 16 years living in Edgerton. I don’t think we would know much still had we not gardened there. Thank you so much for this experience and more to come!”