A garden is a great resource to learn about wildlife, nature, and where our food comes from. Some of us were lucky enough to grow up with a garden behind the house, even though when I was growing up I never fully appreciated it. Having a special place to see things grow and bloom is rare, especially in Beijing. Unfortunately, this city does not have a lot of backyards, so we must make do with the gardens and parks, in our compounds.
But somewhere in Beijing there is a “secret” garden, hidden on a school campus. Ivy Bilingual Schools involve their kids each year with this flourishing garden space on the school grounds. Planning the garden and cultivating seeds, the children of the school are involved in each step of turning this area into a lush source of nourishment.
The design of the garden is created using natural shapes and walkways, allowing the kids to explore every corner of the garden. The children start by sprouting their potatoes during the winter months and then eventually plant these in the garden when the stem vegetables outgrow their cups. Each class has its own little lot and the kids treasure these plants.
There are many novel ideas that went into creating this garden. Beijing is a dry city, so the students and teachers had to find a solution for this. The garden community layered straw on the ground which helps lock in the soil and create a micro ecosystem. Students also save up rain water in buckets to water the plants later, providing these young minds with a little lesson on water conservation. There is also a compost bin to recycle fruit peels and other items, which will be used for many of the vegetables growing here, like tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergine, peppers, potatoes, beans, and herbs.
Now, the school garden is in full bloom and during outside play hours, classes visit the garden to take care of the plants and observe the nature they created. The kids water their plants, harvest vegetables, and maintain garden logs to record the growth of their plants.
When participating in the Nurseries for Nurseries 2017, the French Embassy and Wedome awarded the Ivy garden with the prize of outstanding vegetable garden design. It’s great to see their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. So along with growing vegetables, it appears that Ivy Bilingual Schools are also cultivating young minds with a passionate interest in nature.
Photos: Uni You
This article originally appeared on p 26-27 of beijingkids August 2017 issue.
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