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Update on the Teaching Gardens of Saint Michael's College
By Dr. Mark Lukowitz


Ground was broken for The Teaching Gardens of Saint Michael's College in 2004 to serve as an outdoor laboratory where different disciplines can come together for collaborative teaching, service learning, and /or communal works between staff, students, and faculty.   Currently, the Teaching Gardens consist of four gardens: Books in Bloom, Native Plants of Vermont, The Word Garden, and The International Garden.

Mark Lubkowitz�s and Valerie Bang-Jensen�s classes in Biology and Education helped develop the Books in Bloom and Native Plants of Vermont Gardens.   The Books in Bloom garden features flowers that play an integral role in children's books while The Native Plants of Vermont garden contains plants and stones that are indigenous or naturalized to New England.  These gardens now serve as a collaborative learning laboratory that is transforming our campus into a destination for our students and the larger community to learn about plants, their role in children's literature, and our environment.  They also contribute to the campus wide culture of learning by providing an educational space that is inviting, accessible, and aesthetically pleasing.  Each fall, the students in Botany and Children�s Literature lead tours and host field trips for local schools as part of their coursework.

In the last two years, two additional gardens have been added: The International Garden which was designed by the Applied Linguistics Department and The Word Garden.   The International Garden is in the shape of a circle and is planted with specimens from all over the world (including a banana tree!).   The Word Garden pushes the boundaries of the definition of a garden since it contains primarily stones as opposed to plants.  Each stone has a single word written on it and visitors are encouraged to move the stones in the garden and leave their thoughts. 
         For more on The Word Garden check out the video:
        This fall Mark and Valerie are teaching a First Year Seminar called �Digging down to the roots: the meaning of gardens.�  In this course, the questions of who gardens, what is a garden and why garden is being explored through a collection of essays, laboratory experiments, films and manual labor in the Teaching Gardens to highlight the interdisciplinary nature and multicultural aspect of one of humanity's universal, oldest and evolving practices.  Students taking the course should expect to get dirty. 



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