by Cassie Mattia
Loveland, Ohio – In my newest Table of Discussions I decided to leave the LOVELAND MAGAZINE TV studio and head down the road to take a tour of the Loveland Learning Garden! My garden tour hosts Laurie Flanagan, Board President of the Loveland Learning Garden, Lori Bregger, and Jill Simmons, who are both Ohio State certified master gardeners, Loveland Learning Garden volunteers, and nature educators who teach lessons during the fall and spring to Loveland Primary and Elementary students, not only showed me the garden, but also explained why the garden is so vital to our community’s youth!
The mission of the Loveland Learning Garden is to foster lifelong connections to the wonders of the natural world. The garden gives children the opportunity to immerse themselves in the outdoors from an early age so that they can experience the lasting impact of a positive impression of nature.
The Loveland Learning Garden serves Loveland Primary School (1st-2nd grade) and Loveland Elementary School (3rd-4th grade) students. Just this Spring, the garden had 36 Loveland teachers participate!
The Loveland Learning Garden features both vegetable and flower gardens as well as a nature trail on school grounds so that students can get outdoor hands-on learning. Students that visit the Loveland Learning Garden can engage with nature’s elements (plants, animals, land, air) through observation and fun. In addition to the outdoor hands-on experience, interactive learning activities are utilized in order to explore a plethora of academic subjects! One of the best parts about the garden is that children get the opportunity to see how food is grown and get to taste fresh produce all while serving the community by harvesting food to donate to the LIFE Food Pantry. In 2020, during the pandemic, the Loveland Learning Garden donated over 1,200 pounds of fresh produce to the LIFE Food Pantry!
The Loveland Learning Garden education program is incorporated into the class curriculum. Students come out to the garden or nature trail where Garden Educators, who are recruited and funded by the nonprofit, deliver the lesson plan, and guide the learning. The learning materials developed by the program are offered for others to use in their own nature education programs and can be adapted for at-home activities. Lesson plans are created and maintained by the nonprofit, and many are made available on their website (titles include Planting a Salad, How Do Earthworms Live, Soil Properties, Living Things in Compost, Animals in Garden Habitat, Decomposing Log Study, How Weather Affects Nature).
In 2022, the Loveland Learning Garden launched their first afterschool program called “Outdoor Adventures,” which is run through Loveland Elementary and Primary school’s Parent and Teacher Associations. The program not only allowed the garden to expand its message but also introduced new summer events to children.
This past Summer, the Loveland Learning Garden board held free summer events, such as “Storytime in the Garden,” which was led by the Loveland Library, and “Family Harvest,” which gave children a chance to pick vegetables and make a delivery to the LIFE Food Pantry. Children that visited the garden over the Summer also got the chance to learn about composting from Hamilton County Rc3 Source outreach.
The Learning Garden also placed a huge focus on the community over the Summer by hosting education booths at the Loveland Farmer’s Market and boy and girl scout meetings in the garden setting.
Today, the Loveland Learning Garden “operates with strong, collaborative school partnerships, diverse leadership, community involvement, and a continued passion to educate and inspire children to the lifelong benefits found through nature.”
The Loveland Learning Garden according to Board President, Laurie Flanagan, has so many things in store for the future and can’t wait to continue impacting students through nature!
Click the video below to see and hear what Lori had to say about the Loveland Learning Garden!
The Loveland Learning Garden is a 501c3 nonprofit funded solely through donations, grants, and fundraisers.
Follow the Garden on Facebook.
Follow the Garden on Instagram.
The Loveland Learning Garden is on the campus of the Loveland Primary School and the Loveland Elementary Schools. It is tucked in between the two schools at 600 Loveland Madeira Road.
Columnist Cassie Mattia is a resident of Historic Downtown Loveland and the Public Relations Coordinator at Butler County Board of DD. Cassie was awarded the Little Miami River Chamber Alliance 2021 Young Business Professional of the Year. She is the President and Publisher of Loveland Magazine.