Gardens For Life has extensive experience helping educators make the most of their outdoor spaces. For over a decade, Erica:
- Worked with teachers in Boston-area schools to develop outdoor curriculum integrated with science and language arts, and aligned with state frameworks
- Modeled outdoor lessons and coached teachers as their skills developed
- Designed landscape improvements such as vegetable gardens, habitat gardens, nature play spaces, and outdoor seating areas
- Built landscape improvements with the help of community and student volunteers
- Led schoolyard committees in grant writing, fundraising, and event planning
A great example of Erica’s curriculum development was the second grade Plants Unit at the John D. Philbrick School in Roslindale, Mass. Students cared for vegetables and flowers, maintained a compost bin, and visited local gardens and farms. As the plants grew, students read relevant books and recorded their observations through drawing and writing. The unit culminated in a nonfiction writing project and a harvest party.
At the Dennis C. Haley Pilot School’s Annual Green Up Day, Erica coordinated over 350 elementary students and staff as they planted trees and flowers, picked up litter, pulled weeds, and spread mulch. During these events, the community came together to care for the environment and share the joys of nature.
Erica collaborated with artist Ross Miller to design and build an outdoor classroom at the Lee Academy Pilot School in Dorchester, Mass. This landscape includes a gathering area, raised beds, and a pathway through native plantings. By creating higher spots and lower spots, we added opportunities for children to explore. Placing plantings on small hills also protects them from foot traffic as they get established. Ross and Erica led several volunteer work days, and the space has been used frequently for science explorations and nature play.