Many students aren’t aware that Oakland High School has a school garden, and would be surprised to learn that we have two! OHS has had one school garden for 12 years, and erected a second garden this school year. Teachers say that school gardens are a great way to learn hands-on skills in many fields, and a great escape from the classroom.
At Oakland High School, teachers use the gardens as outdoor classrooms to teach students in the Environmental Science Academy (ESA), as well as some students in Geometry and Biology.
Many do not know where the OHS gardens are. The old garden has been with OHS for many years and is located behind the faculty parking lot in the southwest corner of the campus, and the new garden is located on the south side of the Wong building near the baseball diamond.
“The garden gives kids the opportunity to get outside and enjoy the outdoors,” said science teacher Thomas Reinhardt. “Using the garden not only gives kids the lifetime joy of learning how to garden, it also gives kids a creative first hand experience learning Biology.”
The purpose of the garden is to help students understand concepts of biology, and how living and non-living things interact, according to Reinhardt. Students are given the opportunity to go outside and learn biology through hands-on experience.
Reinhardt also filed a land proposal to the OUSD to use the somewhat abandoned land on Park Blvd. for a bigger garden space. OUSD declined Reinhardt’s proposal, saying that they wanted to develop the land themselves; however, a year later, the targeted space still looks the same.
“What are they going to do with the land that is so important?” wondered OHS junior Adonte Matthews. “Are they going to plant simple bushes like the surrounding area? Why not use that space for a more complex garden area that will help students learn?”
Last year, math teacher Amy Wilder was in charge of the old garden, where she took her Geometry class to do experiments with measurements of plants, volume, perimeter, and area.
According to Wilder her class grew many things, including peas, lettuce, basil, and arugula. Wilder said she and her students loved using the garden; it was a break from everyday class activities and much more fun than boring lectures.
According to Wilder, this year the ESA is slated to use the garden under the care of ESA science teacher Kevin Jordan. On March 29, Jordan’s class began working in the old garden. They are growing peas, corn, and squash. They are testing if there is a difference with plants growing in soil augmented with decomposing biomass, compared to normal soil.
Students who participated in gardening enjoyed the experience. ESA sophomore Amanda Ma, who worked in the garden with Jordan’s class, she said that she enjoyed digging, turning soil, flattening soil, and getting soil ready for planting.
”Different groups have different experimental factors,” said Ma. “They treat their given patch of soil with different fertilizer, like egg shells and fruit peels, and see which groups’ plants grow better. In the garden I liked digging the most. There wasn’t much in the garden but worms, and it smelled like plain dirt, but I still enjoyed that more than the classroom, because you’re not cooped up in a cubicle. You’re outside interacting with the world.”