The Food Forest at Mae Richardson Elementary encourages discussion and exploration of our food system and a place for free play. The area is filled with ordinary items like stumps, pvc pipe and buckets that encourage creative play and the use of imagination.
The older children observe the plant life in different stages and guide the younger students through the food forest. It is a modified peer-led, team learning approach.
Our Aquaponics program, School of Fish, at Jewett Elementary, explores the radical practice of farming using the natural combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. This farming method uses nearly 90 percent less water than traditional farming and it illustrates the symbiotic relationship between the fish byproduct and the nutrient needs of the plant life.
Students incorperate math, science, writing, and so much more into this educational experience.
DIRT specializes in transforming underutilized properties into creative learning spaces while building community connections. We want to provide space for creative and free play for everyone. We change our environment by activating spaces, beautifying our community, and coming together to learn from each other. In these programs DIRT was able to connect with their community, develop a custom space around the locations specific resources, connect volunteers and leverage community engagement to create longstanding relationships. Once the relationships were established and processes to use the space were refined, the site was able to be handed over to its community to nurture.
Located behind a 100-year-old building, the outdoor learning center was the original location for DIRT and host to multiple programs over the years. Starting with school and summer programs, kinder through 3rd grade students would walk over from a small community school that did not have room for gardens and plant various veggies, observe pollinators, learn about water catchment systems and feel and smell all that the garden had to offer. This space was filled with old containers, PVC pipes and wood. These ordinary objects would allow for the students to use their creative problem solving skills to develop games and tracks for cars. Free play has long been associated cognitive development, reading and social interactions development. This park was loosely modeled after "Adventure Parks" in Berkley and the UK.
One of DIRT’s first programs, located at Madrone Trail School, sheep husbandry covered care for animals including their shelter and wool harvesting. This program was quickly adopted by it community in 2015.