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COMMUNITY GARDEN SPOTLIGHT •

TULSA,

Okla.

Tulsa students learn gardening and much more through the Global Gardens program.

Peace, Science and Gardening

How a dream to inspire change turned into a reality by Maria Woodie

With a dream of enriching the lives of children from

low-income communities through peace and science education, Heather Oakley founded the organization Global Gardens in 2007. A science teacher with masters degrees in Urban Science Education and International Development/Peace Education, Heather designed this learning program to foster cooperation, goal-setting and a sense of accomplishment and ownership—while teaching kids to garden. Based in Tulsa, Okla., the non-profit Global Gardens began at Eugene Field Elementary School, with the full support of the administration and staff and the great excitement of the students. Now, six years later, the

program has grown to include Rosa Parks Elementary School, two on-site community garden projects and a middle-school program. Serving over 1,300 children, Global Gardens offers in-school, after-school and summer programs that teach students to plan, grow and harvest their own personal gardens. Moreover, the program helps the kids recognize their own potential, and it highlights the beauty of different cultures, with their crops as a starting point of conversation. During the school year, Global Gardens teachers have weekly meetings with each class, discussing their gardens, how to grow food and the science behind it. “Each classroom decides a theme for their garden, which is decided collectively by the class,” says Ayschia Saiymeh, Community Outreach Director & Educator. “Themes have ranged from taco gardens, to folk-tale gardens, to the International Peace Garden and more!”

The theme gardens allow the students to decide what they want to grow, teaching them responsibility while instilling horticultural knowledge. The learning doesn’t stop at botany and horticulture, though. The children also take part in art, literacy and building projects; they cook and prepare meals; and they participate in farmers’ markets, fundraisers and community events. “Our gardens are really special,” says Saiymeh, who encourages anyone with gardening space to open a bit of it up to a child. “They aren’t manicured and perfect, but they are transforming the lives of those that we work with, and my own. The garden is so much more than a place for science enrichment or food growth. Global Gardens is really about opening people up to possibility and potential.” You can learn more about Global Gardens in the full interview with Ayschia Saiymeh at hortmag.com, and visit their website, global-gardens.org.

Gardeners On the Go! Spring 2013  

Read gardening advice from experts at three top public gardens, plus time-saving gardening tips, great plant recommendations, design ideas f...

Gardeners On the Go! Spring 2013  

Read gardening advice from experts at three top public gardens, plus time-saving gardening tips, great plant recommendations, design ideas f...

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