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 Clinton email scandal: a double standard?
    The Clinton email scandal: a double standard?

    Underpinning the coverage of the Hillary Clinton email scandal is a double standard: She is being pilloried for email practices that are widely used throughout government from local school districts up to the federal level, from junior up to senior administrators and from many past as well as...

  • Online poker: Deal me in
    Online poker: Deal me in

    We don't outlaw cars just because people have accidents. Rather, we have automotive safety standards, rules of the road and consequences for reckless driving. Similarly, online poker should not be illegal just because there are computer security concerns. Rather, gaming can be regulated and...

  • Offshore drilling: All risk, no reward
    Offshore drilling: All risk, no reward

    Responding to a caller on WBAL News Radio's C4 Show on Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan made clear he wasn't happy with Attorney General Brian Frosh taking legal positions such as the amicus brief in support of immigration reform he filed earlier this year. While acknowledging that Mr. Frosh, a...

  • Kids don't belong in adult jails
    Kids don't belong in adult jails

    When I first visited the Baltimore City Detention Center in 1999, I found an archaic, decaying facility that held people in grim cells with no direct natural light. The detention center held many children who were charged as adults, and they suffered some of the worst abuses — including...

  • Backsliding on Baltimore's property tax
    Backsliding on Baltimore's property tax

    Last year, the economic recovery in Maryland and particularly in Baltimore was sputtering, due in no small part to federal government cutbacks. Still, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake managed to introduce a city budget that included no new taxes or fees, no cuts to services, a 2 percent raise for...

  • Baltimore school police [Poll]
    Baltimore school police [Poll]
Comments
Loading