New Ludlow Taylor FoodPrints Garden: A Partnership with the City to showcase a new model for urban schoolyards
This past weekend, city officials, parents, and community members came out to dedicate new gardens at Ludlow-Taylor Elementary School. The project transformed about one-third of the massive amount of pavement behind the school into natural areas that allow children to engage with nature, grow food, and play in and among the plants.
With an ambitious size and innovative rainwater conservation features, the new gardens were touted by Councilmember Charles Allen and DC Department of the Environment Director, Tommy Wells, as an “amazing community asset” and a model for “rethinking what urban schools are.”
This past summer, two new, large gardens were installed in the back of Ludlow-Taylor Elementary. One is a native plant garden featuring pollinator plants and bioretention features (capturing rainwater which waters the plants and reduces stormwater runoff), created as part of the DC Department of Energy and Environment’s RiverSmart Schools program.
The other garden is a new FoodPrints garden, featuring 3-foot-tall raised beds with about 1000 square feet of planting area configured in three square rings with walkways throughout.
This project was a partnership between an Engineering for Social Change class at the University of Maryland (with funding from the Neilom Foundation), the DC Department of Energy and Environment’s RiverSmart School program (which worked with Natural Resources Design, a local landscape design firm, and J & G Landscaping to execute the project) and FRESHFARM FoodPrints.
At the garden dedication, Ludlow-Taylor Principal Andrew Smith emphasized how the new gardens are positive, inspiring spaces that students have fully embraced with respect, curiosity and pride. The Ludlow-Taylor parent community has also embraced the new garden by raising important funds for irrigation and coming out for planting days.
Martine Hippolyte, FRESHFARM’s Lead FoodPrints Teacher at Ludlow-Taylor, will lead FoodPrints sessions for all students at the school to engage them in this new garden. Each classroom in the school participates in one FoodPrints session per month -- which are structured as “in-school” field trips and last for about 2 hours. FoodPrints classes give students extended opportunities to work in the garden and harvest produce, cook in their teaching kitchen classroom using the produce they harvest (supplemented with additional produce from FRESHFARM Markets), eat what they prepare, and engage in projects that support their curriculum at each grade level.
The garden is also a community asset: it is part of the school’s playground that is open to the public during non-school hours, next to a frequently used city baseball field, and a large natural feature in the neighborhood.