Sacred Heart Villa is so blessed to have such an incredible piece of property in the heart of the city. The school is always trying to improve on ways we utilize the property for the best interest of the children. Since 2015, we have worked hard to include native Missouri plants and vegetable gardening on the property. Having a native garden or a vegetable garden planted right outside our building are great ways to have the children engage with nature. These plants and the food web they sustain provide endless educational opportunities to our youngsters at eye level and within hands’ reach. At Sacred Heart Villa, we are always teaching the importance of caring for God’s creation. This diverse schoolyard habitat engages children to observe wildlife such as pollinators and birds. Our schoolyard becomes an amazing space where hands on learning about enables children to appreciate the wonders of God’s creation and how to care responsibly for it.
This past week Sr. Christine Rattini (Pre-K teacher), and Sr. Bridget Smith (Kindergarten teacher & Director of Mission Advancement) took a refresher course on Sustainable Schoolyards sponsored by the Missouri Botanical Gardens through Litzsinger Road Ecology Center. Over the course of three days, the Sisters collaborated with other educators in discussions of how to create and maintain native Missouri plants in their school yards. The program stressed the importance of having the children active in each step of creating and maintaining a schoolyard habitat. This inclusion gives them ownership and so cultivates respect for environment and personal stewardship to care for the earth. In the future, teachers and students will be participating in an ongoing project to expand the native plants that we already have as we plan for new native garden areas. We will also adjust existing gardens to allow children and teachers better access to utilize them for learning experiences.
All summer long, Sr. Matthew Maria Rancilio (Atrium teacher) and Sr. Alice Legan (Administrator) have been working in the vegetable and fruit garden facing Macklind Avenue. Many classes have contributed to the garden with plantings begun as seeds in their classroom. Ms. Ally (Nursery teacher) took a special interest in the garden and started more plants at her home which she shared with us. We are seeing the first fruits of the harvest: zucchini, yellow squash, tomatoes and cucumbers. Several types of melon are growing, too. The children enjoy finding new treasures on the vines and plants. We are especially grateful to Joe Balmer who has volunteered to help with weed control in the front vegetable and fruit gardens!
In giving our children access to nature, we hope to support a lifelong interest in the natural world. If you are interested in helping us in our garden efforts, contact Sr. Bridget at email@example.com.