Planting knowledge about sustainable gardens

May 6, 2011

Culminating a semester-long effort, undergraduate environmental studies certificate students and members of the Nelson Institute Community Environmental Scholars Program distributed 1,000 free vegetable seedlings May 7 at the Dane County Farmers' Market "School on the Square" event.

Environmental Studies 600 Sustainable GardensAn environmental studies student helps a child choose vegetable seedlings at the Dane County Farmers' Market.
As part of a specially designed capstone course (Environmental Studies 600) emphasizing service learning, the students researched and grew various vegetable types—grouped into pizza, pickle and salad combinations—and prepared an informational packet meant to get children excited about sustainable gardening.

The accompanying book includes cartoons and games about the plant cycle and how to plan, care for and maintain your garden, along with harvesting details, recipes and a spring planting guide. You can download the book here (PDF).

Download the Sustainable Gardening for Kids and Parents bookDownload the students' book, Sustainable Gardening for Kids and Parents (PDF).
Students grew a total of 2,000 vegetable seedlings. They donated 1,000 plants to Community GroundWorks for distribution to youth gardening efforts throughout the Madison area.

The course was taught by Teri Balser, associate professor of soil science and environmental studies, and Linda Pfeiffer, a doctoral candidate in mass communication and Environment and Resources.

Environmental studies students led several other service-learning projects this semester throughout Wisconsin, including a community dialogue event at Urban Ecology in Milwaukee; birding with students from Madison's Sherman Middle School; volunteer recruitment for the statewide Clean Boats, Clean Waters program; an environmental scavenger hunt as part of Centro Hispano's Latino Youth Summit in Madison; a survey on citywide sustainability efforts in Monona; and the promotion and sale of Porchlight Products, which supports services for the homeless in Dane County.