St. Louis Community Foundation

Bridgeway Elementary Updates School Garden with Bridgeton Landfill Project Grant

Fall is upon St. Louis and Bridgeway Elementary School is making the most of it. Teachers and students from kindergarten to fifth grade are planting cool weather flowers in their school’s six sensory garden beds. These flowers will sprout year-round thanks to the dedicated community at the school – as well as the Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund.

The St. Louis Community Foundation uses the Project Fund to assist communities near the Bridgeton Landfill. Some of these grants, deemed Community Grants, awarded $5,000 to organizations near the Landfill that have a positive effect on the area. One grant was awarded to Bridgeway Elementary School in the Pattonville School District to purchase a drip irrigation system for their community gardens in September.

According to Jeanne Fernandez, Reading Specialist and Sponsor of the gardening club at Bridgeway, the garden is used to teach students to “intrigue their senses, ignite creativity, interact with peers, and explore nature.” At the same time, it exhibits the environmental and health benefits of gardening to the students.

Often, Fernandez says, students come to school with the weight of outside pressures impeding their ability to focus fully on educational activities. One way to combat this is through Positive Behavioral Interventions & Support (PBIS), which the garden helps support.

PBIS is a schoolwide program that “includes proactive strategies for defining, teaching, and supporting appropriate student behaviors to create positive school environment,” like informing students of coping techniques. Following these guidelines, students “stimulate the five senses and promote mindfulness, relaxation, socialization, and creativity” in the garden, Fernandez said.

The Project Fund has also provided Bridgeway with the ability to have a year-round gardening club after school, called Paintbrushes and Shovels. Run by Fernandez, the club uses the garden beds as an opportunity to teach about “science, art, math, horticulture, and social skills,” she said. Activities include measuring and observing new growth and planting vegetables, flowers, and herbs in the beds. The club is just another way that students can get away from screens and receive the benefits of being outdoors.

Before, the students’ garden projects would die quickly because they did not have a reliable watering system. Now, thanks to the Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund, the students have a relaxing space outside with thriving plants year-round.

“Thank you for providing our students with more opportunities to learn outdoors!”, Fernandez said to the St. Louis Community Foundation for their work with Bridgeway. With all the benefits that gardening is providing to their students, Bridgeway’s updated garden is an excellent example of the support that the Community Project Fund is meant to give to the community surrounding the Bridgeton landfill.

For more information about the Bridgeton Landfill Community Project Fund or to apply for funding, click here.