Travels with Herb Broda: Granny’s Garden School, Cincinnati, Ohio

June 10th, 2009

Herb Broda, author of Schoolyard-Enhanced Learning, has been documenting his travels during his sabbatical this spring. In previous posts he reported about a school in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Columbus, Ohio. This week he shares what he saw at Granny’s Garden School near Cincinnati, Ohio. If you know of a school that is doing a great job of integrating the outdoors into learning, contact Herb at

As a part of my travels to explore how schools utilize the outdoors for learning, I met Roberta Paolo. She is the “Granny” of Granny’s Garden School near Cincinnati, Ohio. What began in 2002 with a small flower bed on a school lawn, has grown into a non-profit organization that literally surrounds Loveland City Schools’ Primary and Elementary buildings with gardens and, most importantly, provides extensive instructional support to promote outdoor learning. I encourage you to take a look at the website of this unique organization.

Recently Roberta gave me a tour of the more than 100 garden beds that have been created on the site. She also passed on some very practical tips that might be of interest to any teacher who is interested in school gardens. Here are a few ideas courtesy of Granny:

Bouquets on Wheels – This has to be one of the most beautiful examples of community outreach that I have seen in an outdoor education program. Classrooms carefully prepare fifty mini-bouquets from flowers that they have picked from their school gardens. The bouquets are then given to the local Meals on Wheels organization and provide a touch of unexpected beauty as they are distributed along with lunch to area senior citizens. Children not only feel connected to the garden, but also are experience the satisfaction of sharing beauty with others. Such a simple idea; but what a powerful activity!

Free buckets for your garden—Granny recommends using old kitty litter buckets. The big advantage—they don’t stick together when stacked!

Perennials with a purpose—Students grow perennials on the school site that are then given to help landscape Habitat for Humanity homes that are being built in the community.

Recycled plant cages—Looking for a protective cover for young plants, or a support for growing flowers? Roberta uses empty planters that had been lined with moss in a previous season. The empty wire basket serves as a perfect plant support.

Please share your unique ideas for incorporating nature into your teaching!

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