CCSD Science Teacher Julie Knobbe Creates Garden Partnership to Help Local Community.
This week the CCSD Science Department would like to “Spotlight” Addison Elementary Science Lab Teacher Julie Knobbe for her incredible dedication and passion for growing and maintaining the school’s beautiful and fruitful garden. By partnering with the Captain Planet Foundation, Ms. Knobbe was able to coordinate and arrange the harvesting of the garden during the summer months. Check out her editorial below about how Addison’s school garden was able to donate over 500 pounds of fruits and vegetables to local food banks around the county at the height of the pandemic.
Tell us about your school and what position you hold there?
“Addison Elementary is a STEM-certified school where each student is challenged to succeed. I am in my 11th year teaching Science/STEM to Pre-K through 5th grade through our hands-on lab. Before I helped open our science lab, I spent 5 years as a parent volunteer helping to coordinate the garden parent program, training volunteers to maintain classroom garden beds, and to teach standards-based lessons through gardening and the outdoors.”
Who funded your garden and who maintains it?
“Garden funding has come from many sources over the years. The initial money and some current funding came through grants from organizations such as Keep Cobb Beautiful, Captain Planet Foundation, and the Whole Kids Foundation. Our PTA and Foundation both help to fund regular maintenance and special projects. This past summer, I organized small, socially distanced weekly garden maintenance days for our families. During the spring, we hold a “Green Thumb Week” designed for all classes to get out and perform garden tasks to beautify and enhance the grounds. This past spring when COVID hit and students were not onsite to compete garden projects, I made videos of planting beds students would usually plant so that we would have flourishing gardens when we all returned. During the summer, I coordinated a small group of four of our teachers who met weekly at Addison for garden weeding, maintenance and harvesting. Our goal was to create a beautiful space to greet our students when they returned in August. Additionally, eight beds were planted and maintained this summer and fall by the Captain Planet Foundation.”
What type of science learning takes place in your garden?
“Each classroom maintains their garden bed. Additionally, I plant and maintain 6-8 beds through which I teach 3-dimensional science lessons through the STEM lab. Kindergarteners explore pollination, and first graders study Dr. Carver in social studies and connect their learning through sprouting sweet potatoes in the science lab and planting them in the “Carver Garden”. Second graders harvest the potatoes and visit to watch for pollinators and plants in different stages of their life cycles. Third graders hunt for habitats in the garden when studying GA habitats, and fourth-graders maintain the compost pile and plant a math garden in the Spring using arrays and demonstrating simple math problems. Fifth graders study Victory Gardens in social studies and then help design and plant three beds reserved for a special food garden they leave as a legacy and gift to the incoming class of fifth graders. When school begins in August, the new class of 5th graders enjoy a special treat such as chips and salsa on their first day of science lab.”
Can you tell me (briefly) how the harvest donation came about?
“We have partnered with the Captain Planet Foundation for the last 8 years. As one of their pilot schools, we received a garden bed installation and a cooking cart. Every summer they help us maintain our garden by supplying an intern. This year when COVID hit, they changed their plan of support and asked if we wanted them to plant and maintain beds and they would donate the harvests to local food banks. With our efforts to “save the garden” our small team of teachers had already weeded and maintained most of the areas of the garden and planted our Carver and Victory Gardens. I met with Jeanne Young from Captain Planet in June and identified eight beds that could be used. We organized a workday to clear out the beds and the work began. During the summer, she and her team visited weekly to plant and harvest the beds. Our team of teachers and families supported their work by keeping the beds watered and weeded. When Jeanne harvested produce from those eight beds, I would also add produce from the rest of the garden into the donation. We contacted Concrete Jungle and they came to harvest and donate the pears that had been pollinated by our students! The partnership was truly amazing.”
What organizations do you donate your garden harvest to?
“Our school garden produce donation went to Atlanta, Marietta and Mableton organizations this summer and fall. Some of the organizations were Family Life Restoration Center in Mableton, First United Methodist Food Pantry in Marietta, Providence Community Baptist Church in Marietta, and New Horizons Church in Atlanta. When I announce that we will be heading out to the garden for an activity, rounds of cheers can be heard down our hallways! Students absolutely LOVE pulling weeds, digging for worms, mulching walkways and planting seeds…learning and doing just about ANYTHING in the garden. They take pride in the projects they complete, every seed they plant, and look forward to sampling the fruits of their labor.”
Christian Cali, Supervisor
Contributing Author: Alana Davis, Professional Learning Specialist, Science