Unlimited Access. Try it Today! Your First 10 Days Always $0.99
News Opinion

How to make a garden bloom at Guilford Elementary/Middle

In "Harvest of disappointment: Good intentions weren't enough to make a garden thrive at on Baltimore school," (November 23), Bess Keller wrote a compassionate and thorough account of the garden project at Guilford Elementary/Middle School — lessons learned about deficiencies in processes. I would like to make a few suggestions for the future of the garden project.

•Overall Goal: Increased educational experience and development of new skills that can one day be applied in creating new small businesses or working in high tech jobs at existing corporations and laboratories — and to increase "a chance at a decent life."

•Recruit a volunteer, experienced project manager/project management professional for the project to mentor the student and adult volunteer team and to introduce them to the components of a project. Include creation of project goals and objectives; project work plan; defining project roles, including coordinating with the volunteer master gardeners; process mapping; risk assessment and mitigation; timeline vis a vis the growing season; execution; monitoring and management; change control; financial monitoring and budget control; harvest and closure; and lessons learned. Requirements would include support for, involvement in, and monitoring of the progress of the project by the principal. Establishment of quality control processes by operational team members could be mentored by the quality professional in step three below. Another requirement would be involvement of school security (possibly including simple video monitoring of the garden area) and Baltimore City Police routine patrols in preventing vandalism to the project and theft of tools; storage of tools inside the main school building would be preferable. A dynamic and charismatic scientific team lead and lead master gardener would also be most productive.

•Introduction of the students and other team members to the basic components of a quality management system by a volunteer quality professional. Includes process mapping; risk assessment, management, and mitigation; standard procedures; internal audits; corrective and preventive action and true root cause analysis for audit observations and quality issues; effectiveness checks; metrics; and management review meetings.

•Advanced/enriched scientific instruction by volunteer science teachers from the school: selection of crops, their soil, water, fertilizer, and sunlight/day length requirements; soil components, structure, and chemistry (including pH); the scientific method; botany, including plant life cycles, structure and morphology, and microscopic examination of plant tissues — either prepared microscope slides or student-stained and fixed slides; photosynthesis; weed control; organic farming techniques versus traditional farming techniques. I would recommend a lecture by a guest presenter from Maryland Organic Food and Farming Association, and from the University of Maryland Extension Service.

•Donation of the harvested vegetables to the Maryland Food Bank, or consumption in the cafeteria. Consider a final assembly and meal at which members of the team can be recognized by the student body and teachers.

•Entry on the student team members' permanent academic record of their participation in this project, and of the advanced/enriched scientific instruction and instruction in project management and quality management systems that they received. Entry in the personnel records of the volunteer teachers a careful description of their contributions to this project, for consideration during annual personnel reviews.

Richard Shannahan, Lutherville

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • The road to 10,000 families
    The road to 10,000 families

    The fact that the Census Bureau estimates a slight decline in Baltimore's population in the year that ended July 1, 2014, isn't the death knell of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake's ambitious goal to attract 10,000 families to the city in a decade. The yearly estimates are just that —...

  • Baltimore's crane drain
    Baltimore's crane drain

    Hats off to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and other top city officials for not blowing their tops when word came down last week that language included in the Senate's version of the state budget package would give a $2 million tax break to Ports America Chesapeake — all of it coming...

  • The people's representatives should be elected
    The people's representatives should be elected

    Members of Congress don't always complete their terms due to factors like death, a new job and scandal. When a House seat becomes vacant, the Constitution requires an election to fill it, and every House member has been elected. The 17th amendment established direct election of Senators as...

  • The conservative case for same-sex marriage
    The conservative case for same-sex marriage

    Before the current Supreme Court session ends this summer, the justices will make a landmark decision on same-sex marriage. But conservatives shouldn't wait to lose in court. They should accept same-sex marriage now.

  • More quality teachers, fewer administrators
    More quality teachers, fewer administrators

    Each year when it is time for executive central office school officials to present their proposed school budget to local government officials for approval, a funny thing happens. The needs of children anchor the plea for more funding. From a political perspective, this is a tough plea to...

  • No weather TLC without TWC
    No weather TLC without TWC

    People love to talk about the weather. And people listen to those who know what they're talking about — like meteorology guru Jim Cantore. But when Verizon FiOS unexpectedly dropped The Weather Channel (TWC) from its line-up on March 10, those voices went silent for the cable company's...

Comments
Loading