Growing food. Cultivating awe.
Charlotte Mason wrote “Never be within doors when you can rightly be without.” We believe in students being outside as much as possible, to play, to enjoy God’s creation, to nurture plants, and to learn. Our students can often be seen outdoors, and all students in grades K-8 have nature study class each week (in grades 7-12 a permaculture elective is offered). Our students learn as they plant and nurture all kinds of plants and trees. We love that moment of joy we see when students dig up a sweet potato or eat a salad that they helped plant and water with their own hands. We have many different garden spaces on campus. Read below to find out more about each one.
Edible Schoolyard Garden
We have two established, organic Edible Schoolyard Gardens- one for elementary and one for junior and high school – where students learn to create healthy soil via composting and caring for decomposers.
- They sow organic crops seasonally that thrive in our Piedmont region during the school year such as sugar snap peas, lettuce, kale, collards, carrots, onions, turnips, parsley, cilantro, dill, radish, strawberries, mustard, tatsoi, cabbage, chard, and spinach, among others!
- We eat it regularly in our class salad and juicing parties, taste testings, and sweet potato pancake breakfasts. They cover the beds with plastic and row covers in the winter and harvest all year long.
- There are over 20 fruiting trees and bushes on campus including pomegranate, fig, kiwi, grape, apple, pear, paw paw, and persimmon.
- Students learn how to harvest, cook, eat and sell the produce. We sell our produce to a local “farm to table” restaurant. We also give produce to Friendship Trays of Charlotte. We EAT, we GIVE, we SELL. This is a balanced approach that teaches students to not just aim to consume or make money but work to contribute to local needs freely.
- We partner with a school for students from refugee families , inviting them to come garden with us several times a year and going to their school to help them create garden spaces. This has been a lovely partnership combining our desire to reach out with our passion for God’s beautiful world.
- Students are taught the critical need of our souls to be “awe-hunters”, which alone is strong enough of an emotion to dismantle both anxiety and apathy. It can also be returned to God as worship. He walks with us in the gardens and grows this awe there to nourish our souls.
Asian Fruit Trees bed
- Two Persimmon and three Asian pear trees.Their fruit is great for fresh eating right from the tree!
- They were donated by Arborbook families and have recognition plaques.
Heirloom Rose Tunnels
- Two tunnels, each ten feet high and eight feet long, covered with the heirloom climbing rose Zepherine Drouhin. This rose blooms in fall and spring when school is in session. It is mostly thornless as well. Its beautiful pink blossoms have an intoxicating old-rose scent which most modern children have never experienced.
Lewis and Clark Historical Garden
- Enriches the curriculum of Lewis and Clark in the classroom.
- Three Paw Paw trees as well as other native species they encountered on their expedition and/or used by Indians for medicinal and cultural purposes .
- The “three sisters”- squash, beans, corn- planting during the summer for early fall harvest when students return to school.
- Two fun teepees created by our high school students as play spaces for the lower school students.
Perennial Pollinator Garden
- Is a certified Monarch Waystation by monarchwatch.org. We will be tagging and releasing Monarch butterflies in the fall. We grow several varieties of milkweed to support this amazing migratory butterfly which is beloved by all!
- Used by all classes for the study of the vital work of pollinators and their habitats.
- Enjoyed for watercolor painting and intimate study of flowers and their colors, as well as beautiful flower arrangements for classrooms.
Woodland Nature Trail
- Used daily by all grades for nature study and to enhance curriculum.
- Trees are identified and marked by students.
- Houses a woodland playground.
- Every spring, a vernal pond arises deep in the woods where frogs and salamanders breed. Students love to don rubber boots, explore the area, and bring eggs back to the classroom to raise.
Apple Tree Room
- Five apple trees are planted in a circle and espaliered to cables which are attached to posts. Espalier is a French method of training trees to grow along a 2D support so that air flow around fruit is increased. These trees will grow together to make a a whimsical garden space: a round “room” with walls approximately 8 feet high.
For more information about our garden spaces or to schedule a tour of our gardens, email our garden coordinator Mrs. Emily Shepherd.
We would like to thank our community partners for their garden support:
Renfrow Hardware and Farms, Matthews, NC
Union County Extension Office
Stone Table Cafe and Catering, Monroe, NC
King’s Nursery, Stallings, NC
Green Teacher Network: www.gtncharlotte.org
Friendship Gardens/Friendship Trays: www.friendship-gardens.org
One7 Academy: www.one7.org/one7-academy/
Garden Mini Videos:
Monarch coming out of a chrysalis…
Slow motion of butterfly…
Nature study class in butterfly garden…