About a year ago, Sam Snow-Cronin started as a paraprofessional at CCCBSD. This summer, after noticing an unused raised garden bed outside the school, he thought that students could benefit from learning to garden. After getting permission to begin the project, Sam was faced with the challenge of creating something that would be accessible for all students, and provide them with the valuable experience of taking care of something and watching it grow.
With the summer session in full swing, gardening has been a perfect activity for students to continue their learning in a non-classroom environment. So far, students have helped with weeding, watering, scheduling, and purchasing seeds and plants. Earlier this year, some students even had the opportunity to visit Kane’s Flower World in Danvers to learn about gardening and purchase plants for the garden.
Though some students have physical challenges, they are by no means exempt from the gardening experience. Recently, Sam Snow-Cronin was able to acquire a specialized watering can that operates with a button. For individuals with fine-motor difficulties, this watering can allows control of how much water is poured, and lets them focus more on aiming. The garden provides a different and highly interactive opportunity to practice their various motor skills. Most of all, students are able to see how their hard work pays off as the plants grow and flourish.
Though only one flower bed is currently available now, Sam hopes to add more in the future. Still, with the small space he has been able to grow cherry tomatoes, basil, lavender, rosemary, lamb’s ear, bush beans, and nasturtiums, an edible flower. These plants in particular are not only edible, but can provide a natural sensory experience for students. Plants like lamb’s ear are soft to the touch, while lavender, rosemary, and basil smell nice. In the future, Sam would like to have a separate section of the garden to be dedicated to sensory plants. He has also been in contact with the cafeteria staff to discuss the future possibility incorporating some of the garden’s produce into student’s meals.
The CCCBSD garden may still be new, but it has been very successful so far. Students are having fun learning new skills and watching their work blossom. Sam is grateful for all of the help and support he has received from teachers and faculty, and hopes to see the project continue to grow and evolve. He is very open to new ideas, and enjoys the collaborative aspects of the garden.