501 3c Organization

Riverwood Celebrates Garden’s One Year Anniversary and Riverwood Foundation to Provide Continuing Support

On a sunny day in May, the team that created and planted the beginnings of the Riverwood Outdoor Garden and Classroom space gathered to celebrate the garden and its tremendous growth over the last year. Due to construction of new facilities at RIverwood, the previous outdoor garden closed in 2015. With support from the Riverwood Foundation and grants from both the Lowe’s Toolbox for Education program and the Whole Kids Foundation, the initial garden space features raised beds, herbs and annuals, vegetable plants, and fruit trees. Fun fact:  although they do not look extraordinary, the spring 2019 tomato plants came from seeds carried on the international space station!   

Fortunately, the design can scale-up in size as the program expands. The long term vision for the outdoor garden and classroom includes retaining walls, a composting area, an improved irrigation system, a walking path, and areas for small group discussions and collaboration. Already, Environmental Science students use the space to explore soil systems, human population carrying capacity, biodiversity, and conservation. Engineering students address soil management, erosion, and harvesting methods. Culinary Arts classes use the edible forest to practice and understand sustainability and farm-to-table cuisine. In the 2019-20 school year, teachers will incorporate food safety and preservation to the curriculum as a way to help understand and address food insecurity and managing food waste.  

Science Department Chair Patti Lawrimore said, “this project is the consummate opportunity to bring a diverse group of students together to learn important STEM lessons with real-world applications, while also benefiting the school and greater Sandy Springs community. Riverwood is unique in its ability to include and challenge students from a broad range of ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.”  

Culinary Arts Chef Elissa Oliver adds, “This is an amazing opportunity for students to understand where their food comes from and how to prepare it in a healthy and tasty manner. We are so lucky to have the support of our community as we venture into collaborative and inquiry based education.”

The Riverwood Foundation continues to seek funding to sustain and expand the garden. In 2019, the Riverwood Foundation received a $2,500 Fiskars Project Orange Thumb grant. Fiskars donated $1,500 in tools and an additional $1,000 in gift cards. The Orange Thumb grant specifically looks for teachers who share a passion for fostering creativity through hands-on learning and providing a positive learning environment that sets students up for success. 

Additionally, the Riverwood Foundation won a $500 Gro More Good Grassroots Grant. The Grassroots Grants are part of Scotts Miracle-Gro’s larger Gro More Good initiative, which aims to bring the life-enhancing benefits of gardens and greenspaces to 10 million children over the next five years.

Assistant Principal Scott Kent said, “I’m so excited about the opportunities for inquiry and interdisciplinary learning that this garden provides. We are thankful for our partners and the Riverwood Foundation who have made this vision a reality. The garden fully supports our school-wide focus areas of inquiry and collaboration.”



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