Classroom in Bloom Programs
Classroom in Bloom exists within a rural and historically agricultural area, where over 50% of our students qualify for school lunch assistance. By providing fresh, garden-grown food, and access to enthusiastic and knowledgeable mentors, Classroom in Bloom enriches the educational experience and also the exposes kids to delicious food and a can-do spirit.
Classroom in Bloom would like to expand its program to become a year-round resource for place-based education for all ages within the Methow Valley School District. We would like to provide more mentoring support for inquiry-based learning projects from the high-school students, and we would like to continue to expand the connections between Classroom in Bloom and our broader agricultural community. Finally, we hope to strengthen students understanding of food production within the specific context of our region, and increase the amount of seasonal, local food served in our cafeterias. We envision a time when a 6th-grader will look at a carrot and say... "I know where that came from, and I know why it tastes delicious. Carrots are better than candy!"
As described above, we provide garden-based education for the Methow Valley School District (K-12). The core of our program is our 1/2-acre garden, where we teach kids the basic skills of food production and teamwork, and we provide an alternative to the indoor classroom experience. Numerous teachers have commented that their students seem to learn more effectively indoors if the students have access to the garden experience once a week. The garden provides a place for students to exercise a diverse set of skills, and for most students, the basic beauty of the garden awakens innate curiosity and joy.
Boiled down to three services we offer: 1) place-based outdoor education fostering specific understanding of our regional climate and its effect on food production, 2) high-quality food production to supplement school lunches, 3) hands-on experience developing lifelong skills.
Recent Successes and Current Challenges
A recent success for Classroom in Bloom is that this summer we partnered with the Methow Conservancy (our local land trust) to offer a 4-class workshop called Dirt Works, focusing on how to improve garden soil. These classes have been well-attended, with students of all ages meeting at the Classroom in Bloom garden to hear from regional gardening experts. These classes were very well attended (70 people over the course of the summer). They have helped us to broaden the impact of Classroom in Bloom, and to raise awareness of the beautiful outdoor classroom that is available for kids in our school district. This community ownership and support helps to insure that Classroom in Bloom remains a vital, well cared-for resource for many future generations of students.
One of our most basic current needs is that we need to grow our donor base to secure additional long-term financial support. Our school district provides 10% of our total budget, and in 2012 grant funding will provide an additional 5% of our total budget. Our local and regional community of individual donors currently provides the remaining 75%. In order to expand to a sustainable, year-round program, we need to continue to grow our donor base and strengthen our organizational partnerships.