Kimberton Waldorf School has an acclaimed gardening program that educates students through practical experience that as human beings, we draw our daily sustenance from the earth, and therefore have some responsibilities toward the earth both for our sake and for the well-being of others. Over the elementary and high school years, wonder awakes responsibility, which ripens into love for the world around us. Practical gardening skills strengthen hope and our ability to make a positive difference. The students experience this directly when they plant seeds, care for the plants, harvest the crops, prepare the produce, and then consume it as part of our Food For Thought organic school lunch program.
Gardening has been a part of the Waldorf school curriculum since the very first Waldorf school in 1923. It is not a training program, but rather a way to allow the students to develop a deeper appreciation for and awareness of the human being’s relationship to the natural world. By caring for the garden, experiencing the growth of plants, and harvesting what they give us, the students develop a deeper consciousness and appreciation for the earth.
For the students it is an opportunity to temporarily escape the fast-paced world of human society and to slow down and relax, taking the time to notice the details of nature and to use all five senses to experience the world more deeply.
The students take great pride in participating in the production of the food they eat. From seeds to seedlings and from planting to harvest, the students weed, water, and tend to vegetables, herbs, flowers, and fruits. They enjoy harvesting and learning to prepare what they have grown – and then eating it! Coming full circle, scraps from meals are composted, and students use that compost to renew the topsoil of the gardens.
Gardening is integrated into the curriculum in a variety of ways. Students use flowers from the dye garden to dye fabrics and yarn that will be used in handwork or in the classrooms. Our beehives on campus allow students the opportunity to learn about the science of pollination, the structure around colonies, environmental impact on bees as well as getting hands on experience in harvesting wax and honey. Students learn about science, sustainability, life cycles, balance, teamwork and patience. They learn how to be good stewards, responsible humans and creative adults.
The glory of gardening: hands in the dirt, head in the sun, heart with nature. To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.— Alfred Austin