As part of the Drew Mathieson Center’s ever expanding educational programming, we have teamed up with local educational partner Manchester Academic Charter School (MACS) to develop a program to provide students in grades 5 through 8 with project-based-learning opportunities utilizing the DMC greenhouse’s facilities. This program, dubbed Seeds in the City, is intended to enhance MACS’ existing science curriculum and offer students an immersive alternative to traditional classroom learning. Students learn and engage through projects that inspire interest in STEAM(science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) based fields of study. The pilot program began in November 2014.
In keeping with the DMC and MACS’s focus on community integration and applied learning, students participate in a real-world learning experiences. Students work hand in hand with the DMC team, their instructors, and community partners to develop their knowledge and understanding of important topics and help to make their local community a better place.
Classes available to Seeds in the City students include:
Seeds in the City Core Course
Landscape Design Elective
Plant Propagation Elective
Summer Garden Stand
Sixth grade students are eligible to enroll in the DMC’s monthly Seeds in the City Core Course—a community-garden based program designed to teach students about the importance of plants as sources of healthy food and how they can help to provide access to healthy foods in their community through urban agriculture. Students explore the DMC greenhouse, learn where food comes from, test out a variety of nutritious plant-based foods, and then produce food themselves by starting herb and vegetable plants from seed. The student-planted vegetables and herbs are then grown at the Drew Mathieson Center until mature enough to be transplanting into the Capt. Charles W. Tate Community Garden in Manchester, which was established in 2015 as part of the DMC and MACS’ educational partnership. Students develop efficient square-foot-gardening plans and transplant vegetables into the community garden according to those plans prior to the end of the school year. Vegetables are then maintained, harvested, and distributed to local community members as part of the Seeds in the City summer program.
“The most important thing the courses at the DMC taught me was helping others.”
-Tyarra, Seeds in the City student at the DMC
The 2015-2016 school year saw the introduction of advanced electives in Landscape Design and Plant Propagation. These weekly classes allow up to 12 seventh or eighth grade students to explore STEAM career options with green industry professionals.As part of the Seeds in the City Landscape Design elective, students assume the roles of professional landscape designers. Students learn about the history, theory, development, presentation, and implementation of landscape design and architecture, and then use that information to partner with local community members to create detailed landscape design plans for real locations in their community. In doing this, students present solutions to needs in their community (public green spaces, spaces dedicated to youth education, public art, food production, and more).
During the Seeds in the City Plant Propagation Elective, students learn how to reproduce plants in a lab using a variety of different techniques. Students learn the best way to propagate specific types of plants, the benefits of different methods of propagation, and the many different ways that plants are utilized within in their communities. The class culminated in the spring of 2016 with the installation of a pollinator garden at the Charles W. Tate Community Garden in Manchester using plants propagated by students from seed.