The purpose of Florida’s School Garden Art Contest is to promote and reward outstanding school garden programs that go above and beyond during the school year by enhancing their programs with creative and artistic features.
The inaugural contest was held during the spring of 2014.
Winners - Spring 2014
Greenacres Elementary School in Palm Beach County placed first in the primary level division, the students cutting out pictures of fruits and vegetables of all colors and beautifying their garden bench.
Greenacres music teacher Colleen Sills and art teacher Kristin Mango worked with third-grade students to decorate a bench they received as part of a recent Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities grant. Students designated each slat of the bench as a different color, cut out fruits and vegetables of the same hue from magazines, protected them with a weather-resistant sealant, then applied the pictures to the bench. Sills and Mango incorporated lessons about healthy eating and growing fruits and vegetables during their time with the students. “The inclusion of the fruits and vegetables would also serve as a continuous learning tool as it would be a consistent reminder that everyone should include a variety of fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors in their diets to keep healthy,” added Sills.
Irby Elementary School of Alachua County placed second in the primary level division. Using tiles donated by Lowe’s, students in each grade level painted class tiles that overlook their garden.
Irby Kindergarten teacher Flo Bason led a school-wide effort to design and decorate colorful tiles to complement their garden space. Each class and staff member at the K-2 school was invited to paint tiles that were donated by their local Lowe’s. “It was a good way to include every single student in the school," District Food Service Specialist Caron Rowe remarked. "In addition to being a fun art project, it ended up being such a wonderful team-building activity for our school.” Irby Elementary started its school garden this past fall and has since grown a variety of produce including lettuce, cabbage, radishes and carrots. The cafeteria, in turn, used the bulk of these items in school lunches. In addition to lunches, students enjoyed some vegetables raw in the classroom as part of a teaching opportunity. With help from University of Florida dietetics students, the garden has becomes the center of projects for numerous classrooms. Students have been able to watch seeds sprout, grow and eventually yield vegetables. They have learned that different vegetables have to be planted at different intervals and different levels under the soil. “The garden has been a huge learning experience for the kids,” Rowe concluded.
Booker Middle School of Sarasota County finished first in the secondary school division, the students decorating bird houses to overlook their garden. They hope the birds will scare away invasive pests and snakes.
Booker students painted and decorated bird houses that were constructed by local high schools. They placed the bird houses on a fence adjacent to the garden in the hopes of attracting birds who would, in turn, deter invasive pests and snakes. Students are also learning to renew and reuse. They use items that are donated or salvaged to make tables, chairs and stands for the garden. They have also built a compost bin out of a pallet that they took apart. They are in the process of making the garden into a learning center. They have existing signage describing what each section of the garden is being used for. They have named their garden “Tornado Tropics” after their mascot, the Tornadoes. Students are in the process of learning how to harvest their own seeds from the vegetables they have grown.
Charlotte High School in Charlotte County finished second in the secondary school division. Students compiled a collage of pictures that illustrate their garden’s progress from start to finish.
Our Community Garden has taken on a life of its own. Our students have in many ways used their gardens as living growing examples of art. They have chosen to create a collage of news articles and custom picture collages of the labor that goes into the silent success of our community gardens. After the Hurricane Season of 2004, when Charley ripped our high school apart, the new school was developed as an open-air center-courtyard design with community planters. Up to this year, the planters were not planted with very much decorative foliage, or anything but weeds for that matter. When the City of Punta Gorda Beautification Committee and the Tarpon Leadership Academy came to me for our supportive, labor-ready group of kids that we call the Functional Unit, we sprang into action and harvested a bumper crop of all kinds of delectable produce and herbs. We became the talk of the district. We have filled produce orders from one end of the county to the other. Student-led enterprise business at its best.