IU and Harmony School partner on children?s woodland gardening initiative

  • Feb. 4, 2014


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- With funding from the George E. Archer Foundation and Audubon's Toyota TogetherGreen initiative, the Indiana University-based Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project is launching a children’s woodland gardening initiative with Harmony School.

Emphasizing the interconnectedness between nature and humans, this Fruits of the Forest initiative will teach how forests can be sustainably gardened for foods as well as for services that nourish people in a multitude of ways, including creativity and emotional health.

This spring, high school students in Emily Sprowls' botany course will work with elementary students in Jennifer Ruff’s multi-age classroom to propagate and plant native, edible woodland plants into IU’s Dunn’s Woods and the Harmony School campus using organic cultivation techniques. Students will literally experience the "fruits" of the forest by making tasty and nutritious snacks and dying T-shirts with native woodland plants. These activities will be complemented by lessons on organic gardening, forest ecology and ecosystem services. Sprowls was a 2012 Toyota TogetherGreen Fellow.

Heather Reynolds, associate professor of biology in the College of Arts and Science at Indiana University Bloomington, initiated the Fruits of the Forest concept as a way to make green infrastructure come alive for students.

"Urban forests and other green spaces are vital but often unappreciated resources that underlie human well-being,” she said. “This initiative has exciting potential to foster understanding of nature’s gifts as well as emotional connection to our beautiful local woodlands."

Natalie Christian, a biology graduate student who is minoring in education at IU, wrote the Fruits of the Forest grant with Reynolds as part of her outreach internship with the Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project. Christian will implement the project with Harmony School this spring.

“Working with Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project the past year has been an incredibly fruitful opportunity for me personally," Christian said. "I have learned so much while giving back to Bloomington’s green space. I am thrilled that we are extending this opportunity to Bloomington’s youth, and I am excited to see how the Harmony School students grow because of it.”

About the Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project

The Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project is a collaboration between Indiana University, Monroe County Identify and Reduce Invasive Species (MC-IRIS), the Sassafras Audubon Society (SAS) and City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation. The project's mission is to promote healthy forests and reconnect communities with their woodlands.

About the George E. Archer Foundation

There are many reasons to teach children to garden. Whether it’s fighting the growing trend of childhood obesity, teaching children to make better food choices, creating a more sustainable environment or reconnecting today’s tech-obsessed youth with the nature that surrounds them, it’s time to get kids back in the dirt. The George E. Archer Foundation and its partners provide grants that support gardening education initiatives for K-8 youth. 

About Harmony School

Founded in 1974 in Bloomington, Ind., Harmony School takes as its mission to prepare young people to live in and contribute to a heterogeneous democratic country. It is dedicated to the development of the whole student: it teaches critical thinking and academic skills, nurtures each student’s unique voice, all while promoting physical, social, emotional, and creative growth.

About Toyota TogetherGreen

Toyota and the National Audubon Society launched the Toyota TogetherGreen initiative in 2008 to foster diverse environmental leadership and invest in innovative conservation ideas. Toyota TogetherGreen funding recipients have improved more than 30,000 acres of habitat, mobilized 420,000 individuals, conserved 15 million gallons of water and leveraged $10.5 million in volunteer hours. 

Harmony School students

Harmony School students Daniel Davila and Jacque Kossman work with young plants.

Print-Quality Photo

Media Contacts

Steve Hinnefeld

Heather Reynolds

  • Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project
  • hlreynol@indiana.edu

Natalie Christian

  • Bloomington Urban Woodlands Project
  • nschrist@umail.iu.edu