Stephanie Kilpatrick, Learning Specialist and Garden Club Coordinator

Stephanie Kilpatrick, Learning Specialist and Garden Club Coordinator

Leela Cyd
Dec 22, 2011

How do people live green in their everyday life? What motivates and inspires them? In Re-Nest's new column, Creative People, Living Green, I interview interesting people I meet to find out their habits, thoughts, creative pursuits, business ventures, and green living wisdom.

Stephanie Kilpatrick leads a gardening club at the public elementary school she teaches at in Portland, Oregon. When her students wound up growing more than the playground raised beds could handle, she decided to start a community garden next door to school. Amazing!

Stephanie's own interest in gardening started when she was just a sprout, but really blossomed upon moving to Portland, several years ago. She enrolled in the Master Gardening Program in order to learn more about the details of maintaining a garden and how best to teach gardening to her students. As a special ed teacher, many of Stephanie's garden club members have a disability. In Stephanie's experience, being active in the garden has been an excellent teaching tool, creative outlet and opportunity for after-school fun. Never before have I seen a teacher and a group of kids so excited about growing their own garlic and broccoli. Now that's how to get kids eating healthy foods!

After many months of grass roots efforts, Stephanie teamed up with a neighboring church to create a community garden. Her students have a large bed allocated to their own gardening. They will work alongside members of the community who pay a small fee to have space there as well. It's empowered, informed, dedicated and creative teachers like Stephanie who see a need and work hard to realize a sustainable dream that really inspire us to do more within our own community!

Green Profile

Name/Occupation: Stephanie Kilpatrick, Learning Specialist and Garden Club Coordinator

What does a typical day look like?
Students observe changes in the garden beds, check status for various needs (for example, does the garden need water, algae juice, or anything else?), and measure growth. They also note if the sunlight duration has changed. This is most notable when transitioning from fall to winter and winter to spring.

The term "green living" can be so generic. What does it mean to you?
"Green living" is very important for students in the club. Despite the amount of rain we receive in the lush Northwest Oregon, students value water. We use only as much as required to grow healthy plants. Over-watering is bad for plants and wastes a precious resource.

Students also see the value in keeping garbage in receptacles as well as recycling as much as they can. Every food item that they can add to the compost bin, they do. They want their edible garden very clean because it is simply more appetizing that way. This translates to a desire to having a clean Earth.

When we learn indoors, the students are conscious about electricity. We turn off the lights when we leave an area. They almost run toward the proper receptacles and light switches because they are so passionate about living as green as possible.

What inspires you?
Families smiling and working together in community gardens inspires me. When people come together outdoors to produce their own food, they learn about themselves, each other, and the planet. This gives us a time to pause and reflect on our health and vitality as well as our interactions with our precious resources.

The one thing you can't live without:
My spade. I can dig, sort, scoop, separate, and point with it.

Favorite quote or personal mantra you live by?
"Might I have a bit of Earth?" from The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

One more thing to note from Stephanie: These projects begin with funding. I would like to thank the following sponsors for their generous donations: MacFarlane's Bark, SOLVOregon, and OnPoint Credit Union. In fact, OnPoint Credit is an ongoing sponsor of the school garden with donating $1000 toward our project thus far. My spade, the students, and I cannot live without was purchased with these generous funds.

Thanks Stephanie for talking to us about your work in the garden!

(Images: Leela Cyd Ross. Originally published 2011-05-31)

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