May 23-27 was Minnesota Schoolyard Gardens Planting Week, as proclaimed by Governor Mark Dayton, and that proclamation was celebrated in Murray Middle School’s freshly planted, studentdesigned pollinator garden, with special guests State Sen. John Marty (District 66), State Rep. Alice Hausman (District 66A), St. Paul City Council member Amy Brendmoen, St. Paul School Board of Education director Mary Vanderwert and assistant superintendent Lisa Sayles-Adams.
Led by their teacher, Tim Chase, students presented their project from concept to execution. Sen. Marty read the proclamation and commended the work of teachers in providing unique learning experiences. Rep. Hausman and Councilmember Brendmoen focused on the positive impacts of outdoor and experiential learning, Hausman noting the importance of the “how” to the “why.”
A key component to promoting the proclamation was asking teachers, garden coordinators and nonprofit partners to register projects as Green Apple Day of Service projects, a charge led by MN Green Schools Coalition (an initiative of U.S. Green Building Council, Minnesota). The data will be used to advocate for more awareness, support and collaboration for hands-on, outdoor learning in the future.
From the time of announcing the proclamation (March 3 at the Schoolyard Garden Conference) to the time of celebrating the proclamation during planting week (May 24), more than 40 garden projects had been registered—and the list continues to grow. You can find out more at greenapple.org. Working with a team of partners and in-kind donors, the MN Green Schools Coalition organized volunteers and garnered donations of compost, plants, tool rental and expertise to support the Green Apple garden projects.
Key partners in the proclamation included MN Schoolyard Garden Coalition, Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program, Jeffers Foundation and Monarch Lab at University of Minnesota. In addition, the following companies donated in-kind materials to support planting projects: Full Circle Organics, the Mulch Store, Sunbelt Rentals Minneapolis, SelfEco Garden and St. Paul Bagelry.