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From Soil to Service: Students Cultivate a Giving Garden for Their Community

Rockdale Academy students are getting their hands dirty for their community as they learn the importance of pollination and the business of food sustainability at the school’s Urban Learning

Rockdale GardenIn partnership with the Cincinnati Zoo, this garden teaches and inspires students to care about their environment through real-world experience that also provides plants to other nearby parks and schools.

The Urban Learning Garden recently hosted special visitors to meet with students and tour the grounds. Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard and Hamilton County Commissioner and President Alisha Reece participated in a student-led tour that included informative discussions on recent projects, planting and what they liked most about harvesting. 

“We grow everything here. My favorite things to grow are strawberries and shaking the tree so fruit drops.” Olivia, Kindergartener at Rockdale said. “It's fun having our own garden because we get to eat fruits and veggies all the time.” 

Recently, Rockdale students potted 2,000 Perennials for Lincoln Garden. Each year, they also donate fruits and veggies to not only their fellow local gardens, but are expanding to donate to Shroder High School and John P. Parker Elementary School.  Rockdale Garden

Carlos VanLeeuwen, Cincinnati Zoo employee and tender of the Rockdale garden said they enjoy working on the garden with students because it exposes students, "at a developmental stage of life to different levels of STEM established around horticulture areas such as maintenance, display projects and more."

Rockdale’s Urban Learning Garden is an outdoor classroom that hosts multiple greenhouses, planting boxes and lush greenspace dedicated to a variety of produce and pollination plants.

This site also hosts a sensory garden that provides additional opportunities to support students with special needs.