The Multicultural Garden (MCG) was started in 2005 as a way to connect the many cultures represented at Atkinson school. The MCG serves as a site for multi-sensory, hands-on learning about the importance of sustainability and the relationships between the environment, culture, and language.
The garden, created under the leadership of Atkinson parents Jennifer Pultz and Janet Cowal, was designed by Chris Tinkham, a parent volunteer at Atkinson, and installed by Atkinson community volunteers and students. Volunteer help also came from Portland State University’s FEED program in the Department of Education and financial support was through Portland State University’s Department of Applied Linguistics. FEED also helped by providing volunteers, who taught students about gardening practices. Additional financial support came from a Make a Difference (MAD) grant, a Metro Nature in the Neighborhoods grant, and a Lowe’s Home Improvement Center Toolbox for Education grant. Located in the central courtyard, the garden was designed around a recycled steel globe sculpture which was donated in 2004 by a local artist group named Cracked Pots.
The MCG is comprised of 30 raised garden beds, one for each teacher. These garden beds provide an opportunity to plant vegetables and flowers from every culture represented at Atkinson. We strive to provide each teacher with a parent volunteer garden representative that works with the teacher to integrate the garden into their curriculum. Throughout the year, the students are planting, thinning, harvesting, mulching and weeding. The food grown by students in the MCG is occasionally served on the school cafeteria salad bar. Workshops and training sessions are provided for parents and teachers alike on how to use the garden in all the different subject areas.
As an integral part of the school curriculum, the garden provides a place for multigenerational, multi-cultural family involvement at Atkinson.