University of Florida

2012 Florida School Garden Competition Winners

The School Garden Competition invites Florida elementary schools to highlight their school garden programs. A cash prize is given to the first-place winning school in each category.

Entire School Garden Category

Dommerich Elementary student working with wormsFirst Place: Dommerich Elementary, Maitland

This first-year garden was a community project, with students, parents, Boy Scouts, and local businesses helping build it. Open to the public on weekends, the garden has butterfly plants, a "pizza garden," and a composting program. A pergola was recently finished and will be used for teaching.

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Student planting potted flowersSecond Place: West Melbourne School for Science

Teachers from all grade levels and subjects utilize the garden, which features a screened butterfly dome, koi pond, hydroponics, and more. Community involvment includes Master Gardeners who maintain the butterfly dome and Boy Scouts, who built the koi pond.

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Students working in the hydroponic gardenThird Place: Leesburg Elementary

The Leesburg Elementary garden has six distinct sections, including a bog garden, a "Florida Native Woodland Habitat," and a hydroponic garden. Students were so successful in the hydroponic vegetable garden that extra produce was sold, with proceeds going back into maintenance of the gardens.

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Multiple Class Garden Category

Students with a seedlingFirst Place: Endeavour Elementary, Cocoa

Endeavour's award-winning butterfly garden has expanded to include a vegetable garden and an "edible forest." Third-graders mentor kindergarteners, who in turn welcome pre-K students to the garden. It is a certified wildlife habitat and includes raised beds accessible by wheelchairs and walkers.

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A Slow-Food Miami volunteer working with studentsSecond Place: Coconut Palm K-8 Academy, Homestead

Coconut Palm has six specialized areas include a state-of-the-art greenhouse, a fruit, vegetable, and herb garden, a butterfly garden, as well as an atrium garden. All experiences present learning opportunities. When cornworms decimated their corn crop, students studied the pests and presented their research to USDA-ARS scientists.

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Boys watering the gardenThird Place: Coral Reef Montessori Academy Charter School, Miami

In addition to traditional topics, students also learned about water conservation, organic gardening practices, and seed saving. One recent collaboration teamed the school with local eco-artist Xavier Cortata on the "Reclamation Project," learning about the importance of native plants.

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Single Class Garden Category

Students around the rocket-shaped gardenFirst Place: Dante B. Fascell Elementary, Miami

Ruby Villa's third grade class created a rocket-shaped edible garden (with insect-fighting marigolds as rocket flames) as part of the class "futurist" theme. Using the vegetables, herbs, and strawberries from their garden, they made dishes with international flare, such as Western Kenyan Cabbage and Eggs.

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Beach sunflowerSecond Place: Bradenton Charter School

Guy Germanio's fifth grade students created a garden of plants native to Florida's west coast, and dedicated it to local members of the armed forces, calling it "Native Plants for Native Sons." They received advice and assistance from Rosalind Rowe, a local botanist, conservationist, and invasive species expert.

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Students studying butterfliesThird Place: Mendenhall Elementary, Tampa

Kimberly Long's third grade students grew vegetables and flowers in their garden, which had a theme of "Taking Care of Our Planet." They studied beneficial insects, made compost, and conserved water with a rain barrel. There was even enough produce to feed the class pets: Cricket and Snickers the guinea pigs and Fluffy the rabbit.

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