Blackbird Paradise Garden, Voorheesville Elementary School
The Blackbird Paradise (BP) Garden is the school garden of the Voorheesville Elementary School. Voorheesville is a village of 2,800 within the town of New Scotland in Albany County, New York. The BP Garden opened on Earth Day in 2009 and is minimally supported as part of the Voorheesville PTA budget ($500/annually) contributing to the purchase of garden materials and supplies. All of the garden labor is contributed by a group of committed volunteers and parents.
The Mission of the BP Garden is to: cultivate curriculum enhancement for students and responsible ecological stewardship; promote healthy eating habits and lifestyle choices; enhance community pride and volunteerism; and, provide intergenerational learning opportunities; fresh produce for the local food pantry; and a living sanctuary for plants and people. Garden volunteers spend much of their time working with the children and planning relevant lessons with teachers and other garden participants.
The grade level programming has evolved within the elementary school curriculum through individual classroom involvement as well as specific grade level and student body activities like Science Lab Days (2nd-3rd grade) where students plant a square foot of flowers or vegetables in the garden and participate in garden education; the Great Plate Exhibit (K-2nd grade) - a screen presentation and exhibition educating children about nationally recognized healthy eating habits; and, the Three Sisters Native American Garden - (4th -5th grade) where students research and plant corn, beans and squash using ancient gardening methods. During winter months, Garden produce (dried lavender and catnip) are used in garden craft workshops as part of the elementary school's Go Beyond after school enrichment program.
The Garden’s classroom interaction has been enhanced due to the Farm to School Initiative (F2S), which helps children learn where food comes from, offers hands-on experience and highlights the importance of supporting local farmers.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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