School News

Community Planting Day a Great Success

From Laura Bordow, Lower School Director:

A huge thanks to all of the many volunteers, (including over 60 parents, children and community members), who helped plant trees, shrubs and ground cover in our Nature Explore Classroom. We were very fortunate to have permaculture designer Fred Meyer, Director of Backyard Abundance in Iowa City guiding everyone throughout the day. Fred had the support of six zone managers, including Karen DeAngelis, Maharishi School Greenhouse Specialist and Dale Monson, Administrative Director. Expertise also came from Doug Crouch, a visiting professor in permaculture from M.U.M., permaculture consultant, Sascha Kyssa and Mary Crooks, also with Backyard Abundance. From Alliant Energy's Trees Forever program, Emily Swihart was a great help, acting as Field Coordinator for the grant Maharishi School received to plant trees.

In addition to the Saturday planting day, our preschool through grade 2 students got to plant their "own" classroom tree. With the help of the 11/12 boys Sustainable Living class, the children planted two pear trees, an apple tree, and a plum tree. This makes a total of 14 trees planted, including dwarf sour cherry and hazelnut. Also adding to the edible fruit orchard is a wide variety of berry bushes for children and wildlife to enjoy, including gooseberry, elderberry, mulberry, jostaberry, and chokeberry. When complete, this woodland orchard will have a pathway to walk through and allow for hand picking of edibles.

Additional features being built this summer include a "bird blind" to allow for viewing of the conifer forest habitat. A rain garden was created on Community Planting Day near the cob playhouse, and another rain garden will be built this summer filled with bird attracting grasses and flowers. Much of the play space is in full sun, so an arbor with kiwi vines is being built to provide for summertime shade. Birdbaths will be placed throughout the landscape and seating areas will be created for butterfly watching.

The plantings and habitat additions were made possible through a grant from Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Arbor Day Foundation, which is partnering with Maharishi School on a research project to see if the enhancement of edible landscaping to the Nature Explore Classroom will increase the children's love of and interaction with nature. Maharishi School is only one of 50 Nature Explore Classrooms in the nation.

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