Nine years ago, I moved from a mid-sized Midwestern city to a smaller agricultural community in California. At that time, I had enough practical gardening skill that enabled me to grow tomatoes and herbs during the short growing season of my former state. I had fond memories of following my grandmother in the perimeter gardens surrounding her house. I understood soil fertility and nurtured my compost.
Gardening was always more than a hobby or avocation for me; it was (and still is) an integral part of how I reconcile the problems associated with daily living, such as how to keep water sources clean, where to put trash or how to reduce my carbon footprint. Williams and Brown (2012) refer to these issues as “modern imperatives” (p. 3) that raise our consciousness about how to live more sustainably in the world.
Upon relocating to California, I accepted a position at a public science center in the Bay Area where I collaboratively designed inquiry-based curriculum. My academic preparation in literacy studies coupled with my practical experience at a science-focused school enabled me balance disciplinary tensions to create an integrated science and literacy program. For more than six years, I confronted difficult questions related to what it means to learn science through language and literacy practice. I was socialized into the world of science education and I learned to articulate the value of inquiry-based, discourse-rich science methods.
After learning about the history of modern science education, I was particularly drawn to the historical uses of learning gardens for science education. I hoped history would provide an answer to why a seemingly beneficial pedagogical tool would be so underutilized in schools, despite their potential advantages for personal and academic outcomes (Blair, 2009; Ozer, 2007; Williams & Dixon, 2013). I started this blog as a way to share what I’ve learned about sustaining school gardens in 21st century schools.