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.