Try digitalPLUS for 10 days for only $0.99

Opinion

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
  • Charm City Circulator [Poll]

    Charm City Circulator [Poll]

    Did Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake make a good call in limiting cuts to the Charm City Circulator routes, at the expense of something else?

  • Middle skill jobs get short shrift

    Middle skill jobs get short shrift

    The Baltimore region is justifiably proud of strong companies in cutting edge fields like cybersecurity and biotech, with a workforce powered by our world-class universities and colleges. High-tech, higher education-driven industries are our future, but we also must double down on the training...

  • The GOP's four advantages

    The GOP's four advantages

    Our political system remains polarized and divided between the two major parties, but in our present era of division the Republicans benefit from what I call four interconnected and mutually-reinforcing "structural asymmetries." Allow me to unpack each.

  • The Circulator's troubling finances

    The Circulator's troubling finances

    The Charm City Circulator bus system in and around downtown Baltimore is clean, reliable and attractive, and people have come to depend on it. The buses are useful for tourists but also have become a primary way for people in their coverage area to commute and run errands. In all, it's an important...

  • Dealing with guns demands more than another moment of silence

    Dealing with guns demands more than another moment of silence

    In President Barack Obama's moving eulogy from Charleston, he talked about horrific atrocities like the shooting that took nine lives in Emanuel A.M.E. church and the rampant violence that exists in communities all across our country.

  • Infrastructure is key to U.S. energy future

    Infrastructure is key to U.S. energy future

    Federal, state and local officials are typically ready to find the money required to fix problems when it comes to highway infrastructure. As a former governor, I know this is good politics. Infrastructure creates jobs, and people appreciate tangible improvements to highways and bridges. Here,...

Comments
Loading

88°