The Roots and Shoots Garden is where young school children, referred to as the Shoots, and adult parent and community volunteers, referred to as the Roots, grow vegetables, flowers and herbs together. As such, the garden actually becomes an outdoor classroom. In addition to providing a unique opportunity for the children to take part in an innovative, interdisciplinary educational experience that encompasses the subjects of science, history, math, language arts, and the creative arts, this outdoor classroom offers a hands-on approach that makes learning more fun, real and relevant. Furthermore, the garden promotes wellness by encouraging healthy food choices and physical activity. SOL-correlated curriculum is taught during the school day by BHS staff and assisted by parent and community volunteers. On Fridays during the growing season, the garden is also staffed by volunteers during different recess times and the students can help weed, water, plant, pick and work on special garden activities. Some of the activities in the garden include the following:
- The kindergarten classes work in the Seed Savers Garden and plant sunflowers, morning glories and gourds.
- The first grade classes plant zinnia seeds in the Butterfly Garden.
- The second grade classes plant, harvest and eat spring vegetables such lettuce, spinach and radishes. They also grow the “Three Sisters” (corn, beans and squash), in conjunction with their Native American unit. They will harvest as third graders in the fall.
- The third grade has a Greek Mythology Garden planting narcissus and crocus bulbs in the fall. Also growing in this bed are achillea (commonly called yarrow), ivy, and iris. The children learn the related myths or the significance of these plants in Greek Mythology.
- The fourth grade plants a Colonial Virginia Herb Garden.
The garden would be impossible without the outstanding support of our parents, faculty and community. Parents built the garden beds at BHS in spring 2008 and fall 2009 with grants from Lowe’s, Home Depot, Lynchburg Garden Club and National Garden Association (NGA), as well as funding from the PTO. We have over 25 volunteers that help in the garden during the school year and numerous families that water, weed and harvest in the summer. We are very lucky to have overwhelming volunteer support from our school families and we prefer these volunteers because we find that the concepts learned in the garden are reinforced in the home. In terms of annual funding, the Roots and Shoots Garden is included as a budget line item in the PTO budget and this is the primary source of funding for ongoing maintenance.
Elsewhere on the BHS campus, the PTO Landscaping Committee takes care of a Virginia Native Wildflower bed by the bus entrance and the Husky Nature Trail that links to the Camp Kum-Ba-Yah trail system; different grades have planted and cared for trees; and the students help with a variety of bird feeders, blue bird houses, and a purple martin house.