Students, faculty, staff, along with a few parent volunteers celebrated Earth Day at the Waldorf School of Garden City on Tuesday, April 24th with events and hands-on activities.
“Working side-by-side,” said Waldorf’s gardening and horticulture teacher Jeannine Davis, “we had workers of all ages spend the day tending to the School’s grounds and learning some very important Earth Day lessons.”
In the morning, students in grades 1-3 harvested freshly-grown lettuce from the School’s biodynamic garden and delivered it to the cafeteria where it was washed and prepared into a true “Waldorf” salad for the entire School community. Students in grades 4-7 learned about solar power from “Solar Guy Mike” from EmPowerSolar – a Long Island company that manufactures and installs solar panels on residential homes and businesses. Students in grades 8-12 watched the documentary film Carbon Nation, followed by a discussion about numerous climate change solutions – from across the political spectrum – addressing other social, economic and national security issues.
In the afternoon, the entire school community split into small groups to work on the school grounds. Over twenty mixed groups – which included students grades 1-12 – built gardening beds; pruned shrubs and trees; planted new flowers, plants, and shrubs; and even learned how to make Earth-friendly “green cleaners” for each classroom. “When all the tasks were completed, said Mrs. Davis, “everyone gathered in the Cranin Courtyard and enjoyed some delicious fruit and vegetable smoothies.” Students also had the opportunity to talk with “Solar Guy Mike” and retired Waldorf librarian Bruce Travins who recently revived his beekeeping hobby. Lending to the festive mood of the occasion, one Waldorf junior Franklin Rankin hooked-up his electric guitar to EmPowerSolar’s solar panel and played “Here Comes the Sun” from The Beatles’ 1969 album Abbey Road – along with bongo drum accompaniment from his classmate Orin Pearce.
Since the School’s beginnings in 1947, gardening and the environment have been an integral part of the Waldorf curriculum. Former Waldorf teacher Marjorie Spock brought the country and state to trial for spraying DDT on her garden. Her persistence caught the eye of many journalists including Rachel Carson whose subsequent book Silent Spring (1962) played a significant role in the environmental movement and the creation of Earth Day.
In addition to Waldorf’s 10-acre campus in Garden City, the Waldorf School operates Camp Glen Brook which consists of 240 acres of farmland and forests in southwestern New Hampshire. For the students, the entire gardening process awakens their senses and encourages an awareness and appreciation of the trans-formative values of nourishment, community, and stewardship of the land.
Photos by Bonnie Bolz, Kathy Bossuk, Sabine Kully and Robert Ingenito.