In 2008, then Brookside Elementary School principal, Fritz Monroe, decided to offer Schoolyard Enhanced Learning to all of his students by creating a sustainable vegetable garden that could be shared by both the students and the community. Starting in the fall of 2008, Brookside partnered with Columbus-based nonprofit organization Local Matters to develop The Three Sisters-Settlers Garden concept. The mission of Local Matters is to improve accessibility to healthy local food through education, strategic partnerships, and thoughtful commitment of resources.
Currently, the garden is being divided up into family plots. Families in the community have volunteered to use the plots to grow food for donation, friends, and themselves. Students visit the garden during the school year to see what is growing and also learn about the critters and flora/fauna that add to the success of growing fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Many of our “local farmers” planted sunflowers and foods the students can enjoy when they return to school in the fall.
The Three Sisters Garden, designed in the shape of a turtle shell, is the area designated for use by Brookside students, and incorporates planting areas for each grade level. This garden honors the traditional growing and planting practices of the Mingo and Wyandot, woodland Native American tribes that lived in the Worthington area. Their practice of interplanting corn, squash, and beans for complementary purposes provided the inspiration for the garden: the Three Sisters unity represents the collaboration of the school, the land, and the community.
Another feature of the Three Sisters Garden is a seasonal earth calendar designed by sculptor and former Brookside Elementary student Chris Taylor. Chris’ calendar will feature a gnomon whose shadow will indicate the solstices and equinoxes, ancient seasonal indicators for planting and harvesting. The gnomon will contain a vault for classes to insert seasonal mini time-capsules for discovery by future Brookside students.
The Settlers Garden, just west of the Three Sisters Garden, was designed to encourage community involvement. The layout honors the grid system of the land when it was divided and awarded to the Virginia sector of Revolutionary War soldiers after their service to our country.
The success of The Three Sisters-Settlers Garden at Brookside will depend on involvement of Brookside neighbors and surrounding community. This project presents a great opportunity to get involved in the community, to learn about sustainable food production, and to teach our children to love the land.
We encourage visitors and welcome volunteers! If you would like to lend a hand with the garden, please fill out this form.
View the original garden blog at threesistersgarden.wordpress.com.
Watch a video of the garden being built at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJwF_SI41VM