Garden Club


Your contributions to our Lakeridge PTA and PTA volunteers help support this program for our students. (Learn more about your impact here.)




About garden club


The Garden Club is a unique opportunity for children to get their hands' dirty tending to the soil, planting vegetables, caring for and weeding them and eventually harvesting them to cook and eat!  We explore how kids see food differently when they grow it themselves while learning how unpredictable, weather dependent, and delicate gardening is every day.  


Sustainability is a large part of education in the garden club. We learn about the impact that transporting food from one part of the planet to another has on our environment. We discuss the importance of supporting local farmers. We dissect and discuss the difference between a fast food french fry and one we make ourselves in the classroom or what the difference is between a vine-ripened tomato and one that ripened while being transported on a truck.  


The Lakeridge Garden supports the school district’s 20/20 Vision by providing hands-on learning opportunities to enrich your child’s curriculum. Lakeridge proudly boasts a thriving garden with 17 raised beds. Our school garden has endless herbs, around 60 vegetables, and fruits – all grown and maintained by our Lakeridge Garden Club students.




2019-2020 Details


Day: 2020 Spring Session start date TBD. The Garden Club meetings Fridays for 7-8 weeks, depending on weather

Time: 3:45–5:00 pm

Location: Lakeridge Garden

Cost: $60 per student and covers the costs of plants, supplies and snacks for all students provided before garden club begins each week.


The Garden Club will meet rain or shine so please send your child with weather appropriate clothes and shoes.






Who is eligible? The Garden Club is open to a maximum of 15 students in Grades 3rd through 5th*. 


Registration: Please complete the Parent Permission Form and return to the Lakeridge front office.


*Additional details: If more than 15 students enroll, we will run a lottery to assign students to the available spaces.





Are you passionate about gardening and interested in leading the 2019-2020 Lakeridge Garden Club? Please express interest on the volunteer form and our Programs Chair will be in touch. 






Without the help of incredible parents, the garden as we know it would not exist. We are one of the few schools in our area that can proudly boast such a huge, lush and prosperous garden.


Here is our learning garden’s history:

  • The Lakeridge Learning Garden in its current form started in 2009.  It was inspired by the garden in the northwest corner of the Lakeridge campus that was itself the creation of some tireless Lakeridge volunteers: Michelle Lambe, who continued to give freely of her time long after her children had graduated from Mercer Island’s schools, Gordon Paulson, a local master gardner who can be seen most weekends at the MI Farmer’s Market, and Andrea Pirzo-Birolli.Then, Sarah Smith, Liz Evans and Maryellen Johnson embraced Michelle’s concept and wanted to expand it to something that every child at Lakeridge would benefit from.   They partnered with Lakeridge principal, Fred Rundle, and recruited parents and volunteers with specific areas of expertise, including Kaarina AuFranc and Justin Davis.  Off-Island schools with recognized gardening programs were toured.  Grants were applied for. 
  • Garden designs were developed and approved and the Lakeridge Learning Garden was built in the central courtyard to ensure adequate light and easy access to water.  Organized volunteer work parties, composed Lakeridge families both young and old, constructed a total of 19 beds. Teachers advised parent volunteers which of their classroom curricula were suited to hands-on application in the garden.  With this direction, Liz, Maryellen and Sarah and other Lakeridge parents enthusiastically designed and presented garden curriculum and  “lab” units applying classroom lessons:
    • First graders learned to plant a garden to sustain the life cycle of a butterfly.
    • Second graders tested the theories of organisms.
    • Third graders explored the components of soil.
    • Fourth graders built three “Sister Gardens” to complement their Native American unit in class.
    • Fifth graders grew vegetables studied in their nutrition unit.
  • Each year since its inception, the Learning Garden has been sustained with generous support from the PTA and the volunteer efforts of many in our community. Along the way, a garden shed and worm bins and have been added. Eagle Scouts built an arbor to designate a grand entrance as well as benches for students to enjoy and a bat box to study.
  • The Lakeridge Learning Garden has now successfully transitioned to an afternoon garden club for students with support from a new cohort of parent volunteers under the dedicated stewardship of Nancy Weil.  It is thrilling to see the gift of an earlier generation embraced by today’s students, educators and parents as the teaching asset it was intended to be.
  • The Lakeridge learning gardens offer a complete and affirming example of a project conceived to be shared with future generations succeeding in its mission.



Q&A with nancy weil


Many parents have approached me with questions about what is and isn’t the ‘green’ way to shop at the grocery store, how to send ‘green’ lunches and sing for explanations about why and how things are bad for the planet. I get a lot of  “What’s the difference between a Capri Sun pouch and a juice box?”, “What’s wrong with string cheese?”, “What is a waste free lunch?”, “Is the foil on top of yogurt tubs recyclable?”,”Is a ziplock bag trash?”, “Why does it matter if I buy in bulk? I have answers to many of these questions and welcome you to email me anytime. If I don’t know right away, I will find the answer.


1)What exactly is a waste free lunch?

A waste free lunch is a lunch where nothing goes into the trash can. The lunch itself, your drink, the entree and any snacks get sent in reusable containers.  It all goes to school and it all comes back home. Nothing goes into the trash.  Left over food scrapes going into the compost are fine because they are turned into compost!  Making any change is a great start!  Reusable containers don’t have to be fancy, they can just be reusing the plastic tub that your yogurt came in and using to cloth baggies instead of a ziplock bag are both great steps in the right direction!  Here is a great link that will also tell you how sending waste free lunches saves you m$ney! 


2) What’s the big deal between Capri Sun foil pouches and plastic bottles, milk cartons and juice boxes?

Simple, they are all recyclable and Capri Sun is NOT. Capri Suns pouches are made by bonding layers of aluminum and plastic together, making them very difficult to recycle. Did you know that enough Capri Suns are sent to the landfill every single year, enough to wrap around the earth 5 times! Make a difference today and stop buying Capri Suns. The National Resource Defense Council has an entire campaign dedicated to this cause. 


3)Why does buying in bulk matter over single use items like yogurt, string cheese etc..?

One of the main components of the lunchroom trash bin is packaging.  The chip bag, the granola bar, the yogurt tub, the string cheese wrapper, the apple sauce squeeze pouch, the yogurt tube…these are all single use items that cannot be recycled.  When you buy in bulk, you are removing a huge amount of this excess packaging.  A lot of the time the large containers that hold the bulk item is recyclable, just not its tiny, individually wrapped version.  Even if the bulk packaging is not recyclable, it is still conserving a lot of resources by reducing the excess packaging. Easy solution to some of these problems:  String cheese- small, flimsy plastic wrappers are all trash (chip/crackers foil pounces of all kinds too). Buy a two pound block of cheese, cut it up into bite size cubes and store it in your fridge and send to school in little tubs!  Yogurt- buy the large tub and use reusable containers to send the yogurt to school with your kids! 


4)Why are plastic ziplock bags and plastic in genera also bad for the environment?

Plastic bags are from the same source as all plastic: crude oil. Like everything else manufactured from this non-renewable resource, it has two major drawbacks: manufacturing it emits considerable amounts of pollution into the air, and the product is not biodegradable. In other words, it is difficult to produce, and nearly impossible to get rid of once produced. According to the Natural Environment website, 60 to 100 million barrels of oil are required to manufacture a year’s worth of plastic bags worldwide, and it takes approximately 400 years at least for a bag to biodegrade.  This has lead to a huge problem for ocean animals as the plastic breaks down into micro plastics, marine life ingest it and it making them very sick. Please contact me with any questions at  Together we can make a difference one lunch at a time!  Making these changes at home will help support the work your kids are doing in school at lunchtime!  Did you know that all of your food scrapes can go directly into your yard waste bin at home, to be turned into rich soil! Chicken boils, coffee grinds, egg shells, melon rinds and just about everything you eat…except gum!