The school garden at Eastlawn Elementary began in the summer of 2017. Two teachers at the school applied for and received a $20,000 grant from Healthy Alamance, a local non-profit organization, to support the creation of the garden.
Eastlawn Elementary is a Title I school located in central North Carolina and was given a grade of D for the 2016-2017 school year. Although the school met their goal for growth, only 33% of students are proficient in reading and only 46% of students are proficient in math. In addition, 70.3% of students are economically disadvantaged. All of this information is from their NC School Report Card.
Elon University has provided some support to Eastlawn Elementary. For example, Dr. Scott Morrison has offered workshops on garden-based learning and collaborated with the teachers on the garden design. With this support, the teachers are transitioning from traditional approaches to teaching and learning to more critical pedagogies of place.
Right now, Eastlawn Elementary has a shed, six raised beds, and a fence to protect the garden space from animals. Soon there will be 19 more raised beds, including one that is accessible for students with special needs, and two outdoor learning areas for large groups. When complete, there will be 25 raised beds and space to accommodate several groups of students at a time.
A garden club was begun in 2017, which serves 3rd-5th graders. Students meet after school on Tuesdays for 90 minutes to work in the garden and do garden-related activities. This program is run by Sarah Wadell and J'Taime Lyons. They also receive support from Samantha Perry, a senior at Elon University.
Currently, the mission of the Eastlawn Elementary School Garden is to support all students academically, socially, emotionally, and physically. The garden is a place where students can interact with nature and each other in ways that cultivate an ethic of care.