Franz Haniel Grammar School’s curriculum is not just maths, German and co. – there is also work to be done in the garden, where around 18 young gardeners tend to the school’s ten vegetable patches. The study group at Haniel’s partner school is led by GemüseAckerdemie, a year-round, theory- and practice-based education programme. “Our aim is to increase children and young people’s appreciation for their food,” explains Susanne Büchner from Ackerdemia, the non-profit social enterprise behind GemüseAckerdemie.
Colorful potatoes from the schoolyard
This year, it all started with the first planting on 1st of April. The young gardeners sowed and planted lettuce, beetroot, radishes, spring onions, carrots, celery, fennel, garlic, kohlrabi, varicoloured varieties of potato, purple salsify and baby leaf. At the end of May, the students of the gardening group showed off their green fingers again at the second planting: They joined forces to dig, plant, sow and water. However, none of this was done without a plan or at random, but rather under expert guidance. For example, the students from years 5 to 11 were visited by their mentors from Ackerdemia. The social enterprise offers further training for the school’s teachers as well as seeds and seedlings. However, the fields are managed by the teachers themselves. Thanks to this “agriculture studying group”, a green oasis was created on the school grounds over the course of the year, bringing the students that little bit closer to nature. “To ensure that our efforts do not wane, we teachers continue studying in tailored agricultural education programmes,” explains gardening teacher and field manager Ethel Kurz. The school’s vegetable garden has been in existence for more than ten years.
Fresh for the breaktime sandwich
Despite all the fun, young and old alike still learn a lot: GemüseAckerdemie provides the children with appropriate materials and teaches them about topics such as planting and harvesting crops, sustainability, healthy nutrition, the global contexts of vegetable growing, and much more. One or two of the adults also learn new things: “Even some of my colleagues were not familiar with plant varieties such as palm kale, autumn turnip and purple salsify,” admits teacher Ethel Kurz. In the end, the children themselves decide how the 25 different sorts of harvested fruit and vegetables will be used. Snacking is allowed – after all, it tastes best fresh from the field. Ms Kurz explains: “For example, the kids put the cress in their breaktime sandwiches, make a salad dressing using herbs from the herb spiral or take some things home.”