The proposed project's goal is to create an education program for elementary school children to tour the Farm and learn about sustainable agriculture and healthy food choices. The proposed project requests funding for two main components: 1) the creation of a physical space on the Farm where children can explore and garden and 2) the acquisition of educational materials and supplies needed to run an educational outreach program that provides rigorous, curriculum-driven field trips with engaging and interactive educational activities.
Expanding the education program entails building a Children's Garden adjacent to the production beds of the UW Farm located at the Center for Urban Horticulture. Currently field trips are carried out in the garden beds that are devoted to food production. While the interactive component of field trips is vital to student engagement and essential for assimilation of new skills and knowledge, it is not sustainable to have large numbers of children sowing and harvesting in the Farm’s production beds without adversely impacting food production. The Children's Garden will consist of raised beds where children can implement the sustainable farming practices they observe on the Farm. Perennial herbs, edible flowers, fruit bushes and dwarf fruit trees, delightful for the senses, will surround the periphery of the Garden. The idea is to grow taller plants around the edge of the Garden to physically contain the children and create the feel of an outdoor classroom. The UW Farm will soon have honeybees, creating the added need to carefully manage the flow of children through the farm; the garden design will help regulate their movements with natural garden barriers, clear paths and an inviting garden entrance. The designated site for the Children’s Garden on the southern edge of the UW Farm was once a landfill in the 1920’s before the University of Washington was gifted the land. The UW has done a laudable job restoring the wetland ecosystem including capping and safely contained the landfill but raised garden beds seems advisable on the site nonetheless.