Gardening Know How Sponsorship Recipient: Forest Park Elementary School Garden Club

Gardening Know How's School and Community Garden Sponsorships was fortunate enough to help support 10 gardens with a $1,000 each. The gardens selected represent a small portion of the multitude of school and community gardens out there, and we are excited to share each of their stories with you. Once a month we will be highlighting one of our sponsorship recipients so that you, too, can see how wonderful and worthwhile these amazing gardens are. This month we are featuring the Forest Park Elementary School Pollinator Garden and Outdoor Classroom Project. Located in Portland, Oregon, the Forest Park Elementary School (FPES) Garden Club recently completed their second year of the outdoor classroom and pollinator garden with the help of many dedicated volunteers, donations and grants from various programs. With the help of Gardening Know How, they hope to continue yet another year of expansion. It all began with a rarely used space behind the portable classroom area of the school. It wasn't very functional or inviting, but the location had potential. With a few changes, their dreams of building a sustainable pollinator garden for teaching and learning started to come alive. Forest Park Elementary even held a "Design our Garden Space" contest for help in planning out the garden - and encouraging others to participate. Some of the classrooms grew seedlings that would eventually make their way into the garden. As the excitement grew, so did the garden. Now the garden space is an attractive, welcoming area hosting recreation opportunities for the children, faculty and parents within the community. This space has become a safe haven for children to learn, a serene outdoor classroom where they enjoy lessons in math and science along with learning activities about composting, recycling and more. Those in the community can also use the space to hold meetings or classes as well. But their mission is not complete. They need one important component - plants. With additional funding, they hope to purchase enough native plants and seeds to create a more pollinator friendly garden. The area will slowly be replaced with more sustainable natives that attract a number of pollinators - bees, butterflies, birds and even bats. The goal is to restore wildlife balance while teaching children about the important symbiotic relationship between the plants and pollinators. Most of the students at Forest Park Elementary are first generation Americans with English as their second language. The outdoor learning area exposes them to the bounty of nature, fostering an understanding of our natural resources. Crossing all nationalities around the world, gardening has a unique way of bringing people together, all while teaching life skills. A simple, rarely used plot of land behind a school now boasts an isolated learning environment for children"¦and soon a beautiful pollinator garden. It all begins with a dream. And Gardening Know How is excited to be a part of this!

Nikki Tilley
Senior Editor

Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.