A very nice story by Anita Weier on school and community work to create and maintain gardens at some of Madison’s East Side elementary schools is posted on the Cap Times site.
The kids are taking responsibility, learning about sustainable practices, such as composting and from the story, obviously having fun.
The project has also brought together a variety of people. Community Groundworks at Troy Garden’s (home base of Madison’s Claire Strader, the new White House Farmer), AmeriCorps, the University of Wisconsin, neighbors, as well as parents, staff and students are working together to make it a success.
Unfortunately, the Madison School Administration appears to be less than enthusiastic. Doug Pearson, director of building services for the school district raised reasonable, if not insurmountable, issues with expanded composting.
Less reasonable on the surface is Assistant Superintendent Sue Abplanalp apparent over-concern with the possibility that neglected gardens will detract from appearances. Unfortunately, the raised bin of mud (which once held trees and grass), the bare dirt, the crumbling wall and other unattractive features that greet me at Franklin School each morning as I drop off my son have not inspired the same level of concern.
According to Abplanalp, an expansion of the program will be at least partially dependent on the results of focus groups and may involve “centralization.” Focus groups. centralization, planning for failure…these are great ways to kill the great grassroots cooperative spirit that is flowering in these gardens.
Thomas J. Mertz