Oriole Park School Teaching Farm is an interactive, outdoor classroom started in the spring of 2013. Run by parent volunteers, teachers and community members, the Teaching Farm exists to inspire and engage young minds with firsthand experience in growing food from start to finish by providing hands-on classroom involvement with lessons in seed starting, seedling care, composting, plant life cycle, organic plant protection, diversity and sustainable practices.
Over the past 10 years our Teaching farm has grown and evolved. While the pollinator garden has remained in the same space since its inception, we have had to rebuild and move our vegetable beds this year. The original beds built out of wood were rotten and falling apart, they were also placed under two magnificent trees that grew so big over 10 years that they now shade the space completely and prevent vegetables from growing. Instead of trimming and possibly damaging the trees, we decided to move the vegetable garden beds to a sunnier location returning the shaded areas to a pleasantly cool recess spot for the Oriole Park Elementary students. This spring, we were the lucky recipients of an American Heart Association grant to purchase new raised beds and soil. We took this opportunity to include two accessible beds including one designed specifically for wheelchair access.
Our teaching farm is fully embedded in the neighborhood community. Community members come out and help during garden work days and many neighborhood residents donate plants and equipment to the garden. In 2010, a former student and Eagle Scout built a greenhouse which is now used to extend the growing season and students’ parents and grandparents contribute their skills and resources to build other structures around the Teaching Farm.