Farmington elementary garden picks up STEAM

Farmington STEAM Academy (FSA) in Farmington Hills and Longacre Elementary School in Farmington teamed up over the summer to restore the Longacre Garden.

Longacre Elementary Garden Before
Here’s what the Longacre Garden looked like before students started working. (Farmington Public Schools)

The FSA fifth graders chose to restore the 12-year-old garden as one of their Project Based Learning (PBL) challenges. Created by teachers and volunteers, the courtyard learning space was filled with perennial plants, ornamental trees, grasses, and brick paths leading to a circle meeting area.

The idea to restore the garden began when the fifth grade FSA teachers presented the following design challenge: How can we make the great outdoors a better environment for our school, our Farmington Hills Community, and the Earth while protecting our natural resources?

Teachers and students created three design groups: Trash To Treasure, Critter Care, and the Garden Rescue and Design group.

The FSA Garden Design team began by creating a year-long restoration timeline with specific objectives and phases tied to goal dates in order to stay on schedule. Students assessed what the garden needed, and each student “adopted” a plant from the garden to research and write about.

Longacre Elementary
(Farmington Public Schools)

Fifth grade teacher Jeffrey Rehbine and a group of FSA students presented their recommendations for improvements and repairs to the Longacre PTA and Principal Rhonda Henry. Thrilled with the plan, the school offered support and funding.

Dara Weber, a paraprofessional, former parent, and long-time school supporter, coordinated the project from the Longacre end, contacting businesses to contribute materials and tools. Fendt, Eagle Landscaping, Block Greenhouse and Nursery, Alexander True Value, and Pro Lift Rental all supported the project.

In May and June, Longacre students and parents worked with a group of FSA students to weed, restore beds, and dig a trench for the foundation of a sitting wall. Volunteers laid the block and cap for the sitting wall, stained the benches and rails, added new plantings, and topped it off with eight yards of mulch.

Longacre Elementary Garden After
The Longacre Garden has new plantings and mulch, refurbished benches, and a sitting wall. (Farmington Public Schools)

FSA students also worked on restoring the sign which will be remounted later this year. The final gift to the Longacre staff and students from FSA was a student-researched and authored Longacre Garden Care Guide which included pictures, descriptions, and care needs for the plants the students “adopted” in the fall.