Mamma Rainbow's Deep Roots Gardening Program, courtesy of the Dunbar Family is part of the cosmic education program and outdoor learning curriculum at Hilltop Montessori School in Birmingham, Alabama. The school is located in a LEED certified green school that boasts approximately 6 acres of outdoor learning environments including organic gardening, a working beehive and native plant trails. The school's outdoor environment are certified with the National Wildlife Federation and the school is accredited by AdvancED, SACS and SAIS. The school is also an associate member of AMS (The American Montessori Society) and its early childhood program is currently a candidate for AMS accreditation.
The school has been working closely with local chefs to design and implement a nutrition and gardening program modeled after an edible school yard model. Local chef of Hot N Hot Fish Club, Chris Hastings, has worked with the school to encourage and implement the program. Chef Hastings is renowed through the region for his Southern cuisine and has won the distinquished James Beard award, as well as even competed against Bobby Flay on the Food Network. The school also offers a thriving outdoor edible garden program, which supplements its annual gardening farm-to-table themed fundraiser and supports the school community.
Hilltop currently rotates the cooking from the gardens throughout the school so that even the tiniest students (18 months and up!) participate in the growing, harvesting, cooking and eating model of good, fresh nutrition. Hilltop Montessori is currently fundraising for a teaching kitchen that will accomodate the young students and the community of Mt Laurel after hours. The school is currently utilizing an existing catering kitchen on site with smaller sized chef cutting stations as a temporary solution.
The school is also assisted by local support, the community surrouding the school and the Birmingham area.