Spring planting in The Learning Garden

Cover photo (above): Duke Energy volunteers posed with students from Mrs. Porro's Kindergarten class.

Thanks to a $25,000 grant from the Duke Energy Foundation, students from all four of Plainfield’s elementary schools will benefit from an outdoor classroom known as the Learning Garden.

5th grade students prepared the soil for the first planting of peas and lettuce.The Learning Garden features modular, raised beds that include seating and shade. Students will plant and tend the garden, then harvest and even eat the fruits and vegetables that it produces during its three planting seasons each year. The space will be part of The Imagination Lab, which is located at Clarks Creek Elementary. The grant will cover everything needed to physically create the garden, along with planting kits and an extensive curriculum for elementary students.

The Learning Garden is a product of Big Green, who designs the ideal raised bed gardens and develops curriculum for schools across the country.

“Through the generosity of our friends at Duke Energy, and the Duke Energy Foundation, we’ve been able to take our dreams for The Imagination Lab to even higher levels,” stated Scott Olinger, superintendent of Plainfield Schools. “Our vision for the ways students learn and experience life will now extend to the outdoors, and we think that is a wonderful gift,” he added.

Mrs. Porro's kindergarten class attended the kickoff and learned about the partnerships that brought the Learning Garden to Plainfield.

The Imagination Lab, which opens to students in August, was created to provide both the time and space where learning grows from out-of-the-ordinary, collaborative experiences, with a focus on persistence instead of perfection. Elementary students will visit The Imagination Lab every three weeks, completing work that connects to their classroom curriculum.

Kindergarten students had the opportunity to thank our volunteers and business partners.

Learning Gardens are the product of Big Green, a non-profit that believes in a future where every child has the opportunity to play, learn and grow in healthy communities. There are now hundreds of Learning Gardens in schools throughout the country. 

Mrs. Cade's 1st graders learned about the life cycle of plants by acting out the growth cycle.

The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to address the needs of the communities where its customers live and work. The foundation provides more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts. The foundation’s education focus spans kindergarten to career, particularly science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), early childhood literacy and workforce development. It also supports the environment and community impact initiatives, including arts and culture.

Students learned about raised bed gardening and irrigation before planting peas.

Duke Energy volunteers, along with Dr. Giesting, pose in front of the sign thanking Duke Energy for their sponsorship of the Learning Garden.