Our gardens are child-centered learning environments. One garden area contains fruits, vegetables, flowers, medicinal plants, and native plants. Another garden area is devoted to a butterfly habitat, with plants designed to attract local butterflies and special woodpiles to encourage propagation. Both of these beautiful spaces have been created and cared for by school families and are integrated into the curriculum by our gardening teacher.
Lessons are offered every week on seasonal topics such as seeds, flower parts, habitats, garden creatures, compost, garden poetry, and more. Classes also take on projects: 1st graders have worked with worm bins as part of their study of the life cycle; 3rd graders tend beds to grow food for the Marin County Food Bank; and 4th grade students run the school composting program. The 4th and 5th grades also host occasional farmers' markets with their harvest.
Our school has a small flock of hens living in a coop in the fruit and vegetable garden. Our chickens help connect students with their environment, enable teachers to have meaningful conversations about where our food comes from, provide many opportunities to care for and establish a positive relationship with animals, and generate excitement among the entire school community.
Upper Division students can take electives in hands-on gardening projects such as building cold frames, making bilingual plant signs, planting theme gardens (for salsa and pizza, for example) and preparing food from them, research medicinal herbs and remedies, and doing maintenance projects such as planting and harvesting. The Green Thumbs lunchtime club allows students to help with harvesting and planing and to learn about seed stewardship, plant life cycles, pollination, native plants, and other practices.
Our fruit and vegetable garden has been recognized by Marin Master Gardeners as a model for school gardens.
We are Reducers, Re-users, and Composters!
At Mark Day School, environmental sustainability is an everyday practice by our whole community. To ensure we are all making a concerted effort to reduce our waste, we have clearly defined the way in which we reuse, recycle, and compost. To meet our commitment of maintaining an environmentally sustainable campus, we follow these practices when we have food on campus:
- We strive to employ reusable products such as washable plates, cups, and utensils whenever possible to reduce our contributions to the recycling, composting, and landfill streams.
- We participate in Marin Sanitary Service's industrial-scale composting system to compost all food products, paper plates, cups, and utensils.
- We use large composting bins located near recycling and trash bins during recess and lunch.
- We put compost bins in every classroom.
- We clearly mark our recycling, composting, and trash bins in the Faculty and Staff workroom.
- We compost all paper towels in the bathroom.
- We encourage everyone to employ re-usable products during all school-related campus events and meetings; products are stored in the gym kitchen and storage.
- Our 7th graders monitor the recycling and composting program in the amphitheater during lunch.
- Our parents help reduce our waste by packing fewer paper products in student lunches and backpacks.