Class of the Season

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The Square Foot Garden

Math, Science and English connections are in FULL BLOOM as part of the creative and educationally rich “Square Foot Garden” program on the Rooftop Garden. A square foot garden is a one foot by one foot space that is designated for specific classrooms or parents to tend to the ecosystems within. They create a small scale learning lab to master specific skills within a much larger learning garden.

Square Foot Kids Garden:
The Rothenberg Rooftop Garden engages 300 students from preschool to grade 5 in the square foot gardening approach. Square foot gardening allows students to personally participate and learn about the entire food chain cycle in one very small space. Learning stations are set up to allow small groups of students to focus on one skill or objective at a time. Activities include planting vegetable seeds, measuring & recording growth data, identifying plant parts/functions/life cycles, harvesting & weighing produce, and collecting seeds & graphing growth results. Reading is also a vital part of the square foot program to reinforce the science skills around planting and life cycles. Students read garden themed literature like The Carrot Seed, Compost Stew, and Jack’s Garden to bring life to their tiny spaces. Life skills such as collaboration & problem solving are sharpened as students work together in a small space to nurture plants and learning to their square foot garden.

Square Foot Parent & Community Garden:
The Rothenberg parents are also active participants on the roof. On the second Wednesday of each month, in collaboration with Beech Acre’s Toyota Family Learning program, 10-12 parents visit the roof to harvest from a special garden bed they planted and maintain. Cooking classes are offered as part of the experience, with parents preparing garden inspired dishes from the harvest. Parents also get to take home produce to share with their families.

New this year to the outdoor classroom, parents volunteer to help with garden lessons during their student’s class time. For every three hours of volunteer service, parents receive Produce Perks, which can be redeemed at local farmer’s markets for fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce Perks is managed by OSU Extension Hamilton County, in partnership with The City of Cincinnati Health Department.