Eau Claire middle school uses gardening to help students learn and grow

CLEAR WATER, Wis. (WEAU) – A garden at a college in Eau Claire hopes to grow more than plants. It aims to create space for students to learn and grow.

Northstar Middle School in Eau Claire lays the foundation for an “edible” classroom.

“What we did was we invited a few of our community members, so our SRO, our student resource officer, parent volunteers and students, of course, to come and help us finish fencing our garden,” said Sarah Redofrd, Northstar special education teacher. mentioned.

Northstar already has an indoor garden.

“We have hydroponic gardens inside our school where we grow cherry tomatoes, we grow herbs, we grow lavender, basil, dill,” Redofrd said.

But Redford wanted to be able to take the class outside the four walls of a traditional classroom.

“One thing I know that helps me is getting my hands dirty, especially if I’m feeling a little anxious about something. I just want to, I want to be part of it, just be part of the nature outside, really,” Redford said. “And so I think kids can really grow from that.”

Right now, the Edible Classroom is an after-school club, but Redford hopes it will one day be used as a learning tool while helping students grow.

Sixth grade teacher Andrea Benedict says she has seen her students embrace the garden before.

“I’ve seen kids who were maybe very quiet in the classroom come here and like to direct where these big six-by-six panels were going,” Benedict said. “And it was so fun to see the different skills they have, the different passions they have, and the different leadership roles.”

Redford wants the garden to be a safe space for those who might not be suited to other activities like sports. She also hopes it will be a place to help students with their mental health.

“I am not a mental health professional. However, as someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder, I know what helps me. So maybe we can help the kids that way because a lot of them have been hurting since COVID,” Redford said. “And so that was really my big push, do they need something more and what can we give them.”

Redford says no matter who you are and your background, food can bring people together.

She also says the Edible Classroom Committee is working to use the garden to create a harvest festival to bring students and the community even closer together.

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