2321 South Park Street, Kalamazoo
Name: Laura Healey
The Bloom Room is an educational organic vegetable garden built in 2011 by a group of parents, community members and teachers. Our mission is to reconnect children with where our food comes from by giving them the hands-on experience of being food producers. Designed to serve as an outdoor classroom, the garden features raised beds built with concrete blocks that allow meandering paths while also serving as seats, picnic tables on the adjoining patio which allow an entire classroom to sit and work outside, and an enclosing picket fence.
Each spring every 2nd and 3rd grade student will grow from seed a wide variety of vegetables, flowers and herbs including: peas, green beans, corn, sunflowers, cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkins, lettuce, shallots, beets, broccoli, potatoes, parsley, marigolds, garden balsam, basil, peppers, and eggplant. They will also help to add compost made from last year’s garden waste back to the soil. Students observe their seedlings sprouting, growing, flowering, producing fruit they can eat and seeds they can plant, and through composting, eventually decomposing to feed the following year’s plants.These activities give real-life meaning to the plant and soil science aspects of 2nd and 3rd grade curricula. After families and neighbors tend the garden throughout summer, students return to find their garden thriving and ready to explore. It is truly inspiring to see the enthusiasm with which these children taste the food they themselves grew, and experience with all their senses the joyful result of planting a seed.
We welcome volunteers of any experience level to help students start seedlings, prepare the garden soil, direct seed, and/or transplant seedlings in the spring. These activities are organized and led by garden committee members, and we welcome your help. We also welcome somewhat more experienced gardeners to help a teacher take his/her students to the garden for a 30 minute session of exploring, tasting, weeding and watering during late spring or during fall. The teachers and students are extremely appreciative of the opportunity to visit the garden with someone knowledgable about the plants who can answer some of their questions, and help them to think creatively (ie, Why are green bean leaves so sticky? How do different plants spread their seeds? Why do the sunflowers face south?).
We also welcome donations of quart yogurt or cottage cheese containers to use as “rain makers” with which children can water the garden. Please drop off containers in the garden on the patio.
Thank you for your support!