DISCOVERY GARDEN


PATRICK EARLE TEACHES AP ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE AND BIOLOGY/ECOLOGY AT TC WILLIAMS HIGH SCHOOL IN ALEXANDRIA, VA, BUT HIS PASSION IS ORGANIC GARDENING. HE USES GARDENING TO CREATE HANDS-ON LESSONS IN DECOMPOSITION, NUTRIENT CYCLING AND PHOSPHORUS NITROGEN CYCLES. USING SCRAPS FROM THE TC CAFETERIA, STUDENTS MIX THEIR OWN COMPOST. THEY DONATE A PORTION OF THEIR HARVEST BACK TO TC TO BE USED IN SCHOOL LUNCHES. GARDENING PROVIDES AN ESPECIALLY VALUABLE LEARNING EXPERIENCE FOR MANY STUDENTS WHO HAVE NEVER VISITED A FARM OR GROWN THEIR OWN PLANTS. THE BUILDING TRADES CLASS ALSO CONTRIBUTES TO THE GARDEN, MOST RECENTLY BY BUILDING A STORAGE SHED. TWO MASTER GARDENERS, ALONG WITH SEVERAL OTHER COMMUNITY MEMBERS, VOLUNTEER THEIR TIME. “TEACHERS WHO REALLY BELIEVE IN THEIR SUBJECT AND ARE EXCITED — THAT ENTHUSIASM WEARS OFF ON THE KIDS,” SAYS MR. EARLE.