Middle School students plant, harvest, and donate vegetables
Our Mandala Garden teaches Nations’ students the practices and processes of sustainable agriculture. The garden consists of nine concentric circles for planting, which balance the garden’s microclimate and integrate it into the surrounding area. Currently, it has a wide variety of vegetables planted by students and an autonomous irrigation system designed by the school’s pedagogical and administrative teams. The food students plant and harvest is donated to local institutions or used in the school cafeteria.
The Mandala Garden has been part of students’ routines for about two months. First, students in Grades 6 and 7 helped clean and restructure the garden and then planted it. Combined with Biology classes taught by teachers Leandro Campos and Rodrigo Girardi, the project introduces students to different fields of science. They learn about sustainability, biodiversity, history, geography, and ecology by working in the garden and volunteering their time to it.
Students also learn about social issues as part of the project, for example, the conscious consumption of food, how to donate food correctly, and the importance of producing food within the school as an act of service. In addition to Middle School students, some High School students have also volunteered to help rebuild the project.
To learn more about the experiences and impact the project has had on students, we interviewed four of them in Grades 6 and 7. Their testimonials follow.
Sofya Ray, Grade 6
“I love going to the Mandala Garden. The classes work in a way so that when we leave the Mandala Garden, we go straight to the lab, where we learn more in-depth about the foods we are planting. We learn a little about everything, especially how to care for the environment. It’s a learning experience for the future.”
“Working in the Mandala Garden helps others. Although it seems simple, the garden is important, and I am happy to know that our work makes a difference.”
Henrique Bracarense, Grade 6
“The garden is cool! Every two weeks, we work in it and learn new things. Since we have cared for the plants from the beginning, seeing how much they have grown and developed is amazing. I think having this kind of class is important because we can disconnect from technology and learn while focusing on the environment and nature.”
Mirella Capparelli, Grade 7
“Working in the garden is very important because we gain so much knowledge about the animals, the plants, the development of the garden, and what we should do or not do to take care of the environment.”
“I am looking forward to making the donations! I like the idea because I know there are many people in need of food. Since we are part of a school that does acts of service, we need to value all citizens and contribute by doing our part and living our values. We need to value everyone!”
Nicholas Mitchell, Grade 7
“Ever since we started working in the Mandala Garden, it’s been great. We have learned so much about the global environment. It’s been fun because we get to interact with things different from what we are used to. Also, the fact that we will donate the vegetables is awesome. I think it’s excellent because we get to see how much work we have done and that we have made a difference in other people’s lives. It is important to see other people with a smile!”