Although Earth Day is only celebrated once a year on April 22, Ranney School (Tinton Falls, NJ) pioneered several initiatives across its 60-acre campus that will contribute toward improving the environment every single day. One of the most exciting projects this week was the debut of the school’s new organic garden and rain garden.
Spearheaded by Lower School Science Teacher Judith Salisbury, the organic garden will create a common environment for cultivating cross-curricular and cross-divisional connections, life-long learning skills and sustainable practices among students, faculty, staff and parents. In addition to providing fresh produce for the dining halls, the garden will serve as a living laboratory for hands-on learning experiences throughout the school year and summer programs, to promote healthy and sustainable life practices. “Gardening offers a chance for children to be partners with nature,” said Mrs. Salisbury. “I have always felt that in order for people to care about the environment, they need repeated positive experiences with the environment. “I hope this will be a place where children have joy as they are learning.”
The garden will feature a “sniff and snip” horseshoe herb garden, a giant gourd bird feeding station, a Native American garden, a pumpkin patch, a butterfly garden, a flower maze and vegetable beds. Students in all divisions spent time planning for the gardens, sowing seeds, planting and labeling the plant and flower beds. The initiative led to the establishment of a new environmental group on campus called the “Ranney Rangers,” where students in grades 2-5 will take nature walks, care for parcel land on campus and help with the garden.
Ranney’s Middle and Upper School students performed exercises to analyze their carbon footprint throughout Earth Day Week and built a Rain Garden. The garden will use native plants and will take up to two years to become fully established.