Maria Montessori put great importance on the connection of educating the mind and the hands especially when creating a program for adolescents. Thus the Erd-Kinder or Earth-Children program which is part of Montessori schools around the world, was developed.
Started in 2010, the gardens at Damariscotta Montessori School are primarily part of the Erdkinder Program encompassing the 7th-8th grade class. Being situated in Coastal Maine where the growing season is short, DMS relies on two large greenhouses along with multiple raised beds and cold frames to cultivate the numerous crops grown.
Heavily inspired by Eliot Coleman’s book titled Four Season Harvest, the students plant the first crops of the season in August and harvest almost until Christmas. A second planting goes into the ground at the end of February which can be harvested through the spring.
A major component of the program is for the students to connect agriculture with business. The small group of eight to fifteen students each year grows, harvests, processes, and sells numerous greens, flowers, root vegetables, and herbs through a CSA and a farm stand on campus.
The 7th-8th grade are also responsible for the school’s composting program and the small orchard of apple trees.
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