Summit Community Gardens after-school program helps students cultivate knowledge and mindfulness |

Summit Community Gardens after-school program helps students cultivate knowledge and mindfulness

Sessions include art, science and yoga

Summit Community Gardens will restart its After School in the Garden program that teaches elementary school students the art and science of gardening.
Park Record file photo

Summit Community Gardens relishes in things that grow, and that joy is not just relegated to plants.

The wellness and sustainability nonprofit also wants to help local elementary school-aged students expand their knowledge when it comes to the benefits of gardening. So, it will start up spring sessions of its After School in the Garden program, said Executive Director Sloane Johnson.

Sessions run from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and from 1-3 p.m. Fridays, beginning on April 12. Each session is open for 12 participants, and registration is now open.

Parents can choose to register their children for one day or all three days, Johnson said.

Scholarships are also available by emailing

“We started the program in the fall, because many after-school programs around the town were canceled due to COVID-19,” she said. “We had this beautiful outdoor space available for kids to learn in. So, we presented fun gardening activities, and the kids loved it.

It was an all-around positive experience.”

The spring sessions will feature art, science and yoga, Johnson said.

“For the first hour of every Monday, we will have the elementary visual arts staff from McPolin Elementary School come to help us with art projects,” she said. “Gardening is very creative, and we want to bring that out in these sessions.”

Participants will conduct different science projects every Wednesday, Johnson said.

“We’ll experiment with soils, and we’re currently working to get a weather station to help us manage the moisture in the soil,” she said.

Gardening is made up of a series of experiments every time seeds are put into the ground, according to Johnson.

“You plant 10 and you see how many will grow, and you continue to test your soil,” she said. “We will help kids understand soil content. We will also look at sandy soils and see what happens when we add compost and biochar, so the kids can see how the different elements change how plants grow.”

Students will participate in yoga sessions taught by certified instructor Randi Jo Taurel, Johnson said.

“Randi Jo will teach classes where kids can learn about mindfulness, where they will notice and be part of the peaceful spaces in the garden,” she said. “A lot of gardening is being mindful of nature. You’re paying attention to the worms and bugs in the soil. You’re also paying attention to how your plants are growing and the environments around them. You pay attention to the pests. So you’re very mindful about what’s happening in the garden to help it grow better. And noticing details will help them be better gardeners.”

Summit Community Gardens says gardening can utilize art, science and wellness skills through planting, planning and enjoying the outdoors.
Park Record file photo

Starting After School in the Garden was a way for Summit Community Gardens to turn things rightside up after the coronavirus pandemic flipped everything around, Johnson said.

“We had to do things differently to make it work with the new rules, but it’s things like this that help us to continue thinking and expanding,” she said.

After School in the Garden

Where: Summit Community Gardens, 4056 Shadow Mountain Drive

When: 3:30-5:30 p.m., Mondays and Wednesdays; 1-3 p.m., Fridays



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