Skyview Elementary School students prepare spring beds in their new garden. Photo courtesy of Facebook.com/SkyviewHarmonyGarden.
May 24, 2016
The garden’s intriguing name belies its dual purpose as both an outdoor learning center and musical classroom. Skyview Harmony Garden has not yet installed its musical instruments but the garden is taking shape in the Lake Highlands neighborhood in Dallas, thanks to a parent’s initiative.
Three years ago, Sarah Greenman, a new parent to Skyview Elementary School, attended her first PTA meeting. Though several teachers were in attendance, she was the only parent.
Sarah Greenman, president of Skyview of Elementary School's PTA, spearheaded the creation of the garden.
Skyview Elementary School, a part of the Richardson Independent School District, is located in a part of Lake Highlands where many families live below the poverty line and parents just don’t have time to participate in the PTA.
Over the next few years, Greenman immersed herself in the PTA (she currently serves as the president), and took on a pet project – getting a school garden installed.
“School gardens are learning tools that help with the STEM curriculum; overall scores are better - students and teachers are happier,” declares Greenman.
When Curtis Scoggins, a landscape architect whose wife teaches at Skyview, came onboard and sketched out a garden design, Greenman had a tangible plan that she could share with the community.
Everything came together when the Exchange Club of Lake Highlands made a donation, followed by many others; and now, with money in the bank, Skyview has been able to break ground on its garden in April, about three years after Greenman’s first PTA meeting.
The Skyview Harmony Garden has eight raised beds, which are growing everything from melons to peas to squash to cucumbers. There is also a pollinator garden and a 1,000-gallon rainwater tank, which collects water from the school’s rooftop. Because of its large population of special needs students, the garden is ADA compliant.
And this summer, the garden will become the first of its kind in the school district when it implements musical instruments - ten tubano drums and two standing xylophones. A longtime dream of Skyview music teacher and PTA member, Austin Aeschbacher, all of the instruments will be tuned to each other in perfect harmony, offering multiple ways to interact with this unique garden. Even, though the garden is new, many are already taking advantage of it.
“The other day a class was out here measuring the beds and the plants. And it’s also used for kids when they’re feeling hemmed-in. They can come outside and feel the dill, smell it and relax outside of the classroom,” shares Greenman.
However, the garden isn’t just for the school, as Greenman is finding ways for it to benefit the community, including a partnership with Pamper Lake Highlands, a local non-profit that assists families with financial constraints. Together, they will offer a class in the garden, where participants learn about nutrition while performing garden tasks, including harvesting vegetables, which they can take home at the end of the day.
As the Skyview Harmony Garden continues to evolve, Greenman tries to keep it all in perspective.
“We’re building this road by walking it. We might fail, things might go wrong, but it’s also a lesson. There are elements that you can’t control but we keep planting seeds and hope that they come to fruition,” says Greenman.
On Thursday, June 2, Skyview Harmony Garden co-hosting a screening of Can You Dig This, a documentary about urban gardening and food justice in South Central L.A. It’s universal message is applicable to any big city, including Big D.
About: Documentary about urban gardening and food justice in South Central LA.
Hosted by: Skyview Harmony Garden, Dallas
When: June 2, 6:30 p.m.
Where: NorthPark 15 8687 N Central Expwy, Dallas