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Edible forest gardens to teach sustainability, food systems at UD's Children's Campus

Kids at the University of Delaware’s children’s campus are getting access to a new outdoor learning space.


UD interns led the design of several edible forest gardens planted recently at the children’s campus in Newark.

Edible forest gardens are often described as self-sustaining ecosystem-style gardens that may consist of several forms of plants, such as trees, shrubs and vines.

Volunteers recently planted the new gardens at the Children’s Campus with species including raspberries, jostaberries, blue fasle indigo, slender mountain mint, sea kale and purple yardlong beans.

Assistant Professor at UD’s College of Agriculture & Natural Resources and registered landscape architect Anna Wik says the new gardens scattered around the campus will help unify UD’s Early Learning Center, the Laboratory Preschool and the College School, all located there. “We ... decided it could be a great way to make the children's campus more cohesive.”

Kelly Freel of the Early Learning Center says its teachers have requested more of what she calls “yes environments” — like the edible forest gardens.

“They really wanted environments where children could use all their senses,” she said. “Where if we picked something and put it in our mouths, which is what 2-year-olds do, that they would be safe.”

Laura Morris of the Laboratory Preschool says the edible forest gardens will offer teaching opportunities beyond the existing outdoor learning spaces at the Children’s Campus. She says they will provide “new approaches to gardening, new approaches to teaching children about sustainability, new approaches to thinking about where food comes from. So now we’re going to start looking at how do we take these ideas and make them understandable to young children.”

Morris says educators will work to develop lessons around the new gardens this summer.  

The project was funded by a grant from UD’s Center for Food Systems and Sustainability.


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