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Mendham Township Elementary School Outdoor Learning Center

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As we start thinking about going back to school, I’d like to remind everyone that an exciting project is underway at the Mendham Township Elementary School. The Mendham Township Education Foundation is working to construct an Outdoor Learning Center in the Mendham Township Elementary School library courtyard. The project will convert an unused area to a rich learning center that will benefit the students and help the community in a variety of ways.

Here’s the diagram of the Outdoor Learning Center….it is really going to be amazing. Click on the picture below to see the full-size image.

Each study area was designed to maximize the educational benefits to children by considering aesthetic value as well as academic correlation. The proposed courtyard classroom provides a rich and diverse facility that can be utilized to enhance science, social studies, reading, writing, and art experiences. The plants and wildlife in the garden offer a natural environment that correlates to the topics Mendham Township Elementary School children will study in their science and social studies classes. Through hands-on exploration, students have the opportunity to discover the Lenape culture, conduct plant experiments, and observe wildlife in their natural habitat.

Entrance Garden: The entrance will be a grassy area with various flowering trees, plants, and evergreen bushes. Two benches will be provided for students to organize their materials before proceeding into the garden.

Orchard: The orchard area consists of self-pollinating apple, cherry, and nectarine trees to show the development of three different fruit. Other plant species will be in the area as well.

Science Center: The existing weather station will be relocated to the Science Center, and benches will be available for students to discuss observations and take notes. Cold frames will be available to provide a nursery for new plants. I wonder if the new weather station at Mendham Township Elementary School can start contributing to the school weather information I see on WeatherBug!

Lenape Garden: This garden will have an authentic Lenape wigwam consistent with shelter designs of that period. Plants have been selected to reflect types available to the Native Americans for paint and dyes. The planting area will show how the “three sisters” — corn, beans, and squash — were used to cross-fertilize and maximize use of planting areas.

Cottage Garden: A cedar roofed, 10′ by 14′ colonial-design “cottage” will be constructed to simulate a one-room schoolhouse. A fenced-in flower and herb garden with boxwoods will surround the cottage. Herbs are varied and will provide sensory interest to the lower grades.

Colonial Garden: A geometric garden typical of our colonial period, including a sundial, will provide an area to study plants grown in colonial times. A low fence will surround the garden to enhance its intimacy.

Friendship Garden: The Friendship Garden is an open grassy area with a stone patio, which will be used as a gathering center for discussion, demonstrations, and, potentially, pefromances. Flowering trees, plants and evergreen bushes will be planted.

Grade Level Planting Boxes: Planting boxes will be provided to give each grade an area to experiment and customize.

Bird Garden, Butterfly Garden, Hummingbird Garden: These specialized gardens will have flowers and berries designed to attract a variety of creatures. Feeders and houses will be installed. A worm garden and compost box will be provided to demonstrate recycling of plant materials and the benefit of worms in decomposing plant materials.

Waterfall Garden: This area is dedicated to plants that thrive in a moist environment. The water feature will be a “disappearing” waterfall where the falling water does not collect but disappears into a gravel or sand bed. Stones will be chosen to show different types of rocks and minerals.

Donations and Acknowledgements:

Because the garden will be used as a classroom, the opportunity to acknowledge donors in the garden is limited to minimize distractions. Supporters of the Mendham Township Elementary School garden project donating $60 or more will be acknowledged on a “giving tree” at the entrance of the garden. Donors giving $5,000 or more will be acknowledged with a woodland creature in the garden bearing a plaque with the dedication of their choice. Individuals can join together and contribute as a group (e.g., a neighborhood, club, or business) and be recognized.

When I first learned about the formation of the Mendham Township Education Foundation, I made a small donation to make sure I would be kept apprised of the projects MTEF proposed to determine whether or not they were worthwhile. The proposed Mendham Township Elementary School Outdoor Learning Center is way beyond my wildest expectations, so I’m getting serious with my 2008 support. If you are interested in making this exceptional project a reality, you can send your contributions to:

MTEF — Outdoor Learning Center
P.O. Box 191
Mendham, NJ 07945
or contact Judith Kern at for more information.

As always, tell ‘em Roxiticus Desperate Housewives sent you…

While the Fiskars Orange Thumb Program Grants for 2008 have already been awarded to 13 groups across the United States who have developed and built community garden spaces that promote community involvement, creativity, and sustainable gardening, I wonder if the Mendham Township Elementary School Outdoor Learning Center would be eligible for a 2009 award. Tell them Roxiticus Desperate Housewives sent you, too!

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Who's talking: Nicole. Leave your comment
  • Nicole
    9:45 am on August 20th, 2008 1

    It sounds like the proposed garden at Mendham Township Elementary School should most certianly apply to the 2009 Project Orange Thumb Grant through Fiskars. Your goals and objectives are exactly what Project Orange Thumb is all about, hope to see your application next Srping. You can go to the beginning of November to find applicaitons for the 2009 grant cycle. Good Luck!


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