Drawing on the underlying philosophy of the Bell School, “we care for ourselves, all others and our environment,” the Bell School Organic Garden extends learning beyond school walls and the existing outdoor classroom to harness the power of nature in broadening our children’s learning experiences. The Garden is an extraordinary tool for satisfying the learning objectives of the Bell School, which serves pre-kindergarten to third grade. The garden utilizes experiential learning, which efficiently engages students and results in lifelong benefits. Gardening at Bell will be something our children will remember and talk about years from now when they are adults.
The garden includes five main areas with several secondary spaces that offer visual and physical support. Our outdoor garden classroom includes a Pizza Garden, Amphitheater, raised planter area with six cedar boxes, a workspace and The Bell Patch. The Garden is beautifully designed and consists of five main spaces with several secondary spaces.
The main space is The Pizza Garden, which is the first visual space you see as you egress the building and anchors of the walkway. The Pizza Garden is a circular bed with geometric slices defining each piece. The pieces are planted with ingredients found on a typical pizza. Visually, The Pizza Garden’s round shape anchors the garden as a central space from which all other spaces radiate. From an educational standpoint, The Pizza Garden is the center of cross-curriculum learning, allowing teachers to study everything from science, math, health and language arts.
The garden’s Amphitheater seating radiates outward from The Pizza Garden. Two levels of seating ring The Pizza Garden and give students and guests a place to sit. From this space one can to look out over the entire garden with a clear view down the path. The space provides a gathering spot, as well as can be used as a place for quiet contemplation and reading. The seating was built out of recycled granite, which was generously donated by the Marblehead Department of Public Works. The origin of this material strengthens our commitment to environmental stewardship as well as provides a history to the space.
Our original design includes two groups of raised bed planter areas. We built the first set of six cedar raised beds in the spring of 2013 and have plans to construct the second set in the near future. The planter areas sit on either side of the walkway with raised beds to grow two different groups vegetables, herbs and fruit: sun-loving and partial shade. The raised beds are also wheelchair accessible, enabling all children a chance to “get their hands dirty” and work in the beds.