School Orchard Program

School Orchard Program

Learn more about how we are engaging Philadelphia’s youth.

POP’s School Orchard Program was formally launched in 2017. POP currently supports orchards at 9 district schools (Bartram HS, Hartranft ES, Greenfield ES, Lea ES, Tilden MS, Saul HS, Sayre HS, South Philadelphia HS, and Roxborough HS), 2 public charters (Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School and Philadelphia Montessori Charter School), and the Overbrook School for the Blind. As with POP’s overall planting priority of supporting systemically under-resourced communities, 7 of the schools we work with have 100% of students who are considered “economically disadvantaged” by the School District and eligible for free or reduced lunch, and an additional 3 of the schools have between 44-86% of students on free or reduced lunch.

As with all of our community orchard partners, POP provides our school partners with assistance in designing and planting their orchard and training in ongoing orchard care, harvest, and use. Due to a variety of factors, schools have demonstrated a greater need for ongoing support compared to our other partners. The School Orchard Program prioritizes the learning objectives of schools, students, and communities in developing orchard-based lesson plans for use by school orchard partners and others serving youth. The program also works to build interdisciplinary relationships with the city’s educators working in food justice, urban agriculture, nutrition, and literacy.

“Each day our students roam the garden discovering insects, birds, and an occasional fruit. Our orchard is still young and doesn’t produce much yet, but the trees provide shade and for the first time we found Eastern Swallowtail Butterfly caterpillars in the garden. We are beginning to have develop an ecosystem.”

—Letitia Biddle

School orchards connect students to how food is grown and create opportunities to learn about soil life, water cycles, pollination, botany, ecology, and civic engagement. In 2018, our School Orchard Program continued to expand in offering unique, engaging, and hands-on learning activities for students. In total, we offered 26 unique topical lessons, created 6 downloadable lesson and material packs for teachers to use in their classrooms, made 440 student impressions and created pre- and post-school year surveys to collect orchard metrics that have value for structuring our programming.

In 2019, POP’s School Orchard Program will focus on learning initiatives related to supporting threatened pollinator habitats and natural dyes and pigments. If you are interested in getting involved with these initiatives, please contact Education Director Alyssa Schimmel (alyssa@phillyorchards.org).

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