MS 126’s Keepers of The Earth Take Governor’s Island

By MS 126 Class 601.

As part of the Greenpoint Eco-Schools program at John Ericsson Middle School for Environmental Engineering’s (aka MS 126), 6th grade Social Studies students recently visited Governor’s Island’s Teaching Garden to experience and understand – up close and personal – the systems embedded in farming. Students planted, harvested, shifted compost, watered and made salad dressing from the fresh herbs grown in the garden. Their ultimate goal is to compare and contrast gardening /farm techniques and systems with those from the early 1900’s to systems used today.

Half of the students are also members of a student Green Team known as “Keepers of the Earth,” who take action and lead the school in the Eco-Schools Schoolyard Habitats Pathway. The experience that they had will be applied in MS 126’s newly completed outdoor classroom where vegetables, herbs, and native plants are grown. Read about their experiences below!

Governor’s Island Garden through the eyes of students in Class 601

There’s no doubt this trip was very different than other school trips we have been on. For example, it was cool that we needed to travel by ferry boat to the island. We really didn’t know where Governor’s Island was located. Our teacher showed us a map but it didn’t seem real. Then as we were on our way, we saw the Statue of Liberty which seemed enormous as we passed the lady of freedom. This was an awesome moment!  In addition, we saw Ellis Island.  When we got back to school, we thought about all the immigrants we have learned about that came to America through Ellis Island and we shared how this made us feel like a part of history getting that close to the Island. Overall, this trip was pretty unique and we would like to visit Governor’s Island again!

So once on the island, our trip began with a tour of the different plants and flowers found on Governor’s Island. Some examples of the plants we saw were: lavender, cucumber, and tomato plants. Then we had the opportunity to practice being “salad chefs.”  We were split up into 3 groups and we made organic salads using plants grown on the island. After, we sampled our salads. Honestly most of us felt our salad creations weren’t so delicious but with a bit more practice our salads could have been a bit more taste worthy ☺. Later we visited a greenhouse on the island and it felt so hot in there! The greenhouse had so many different plants and flowers. We decided that the greenhouse was like being in a giant bubble. We also had the opportunity to garden outside on the island and we agreed this was one of our favorite parts of the trip.

Other interesting sights on the island were historical buildings. We saw an old jail and a building that looked like a castle and there were actual cannons on the property too!  You could almost imagine going back in time and being part of life on Governor’s Island in the past. The island itself was such a cool place to visit. It was filled with history and beauty and it’s a great place to walk around and relax. We’re glad we visited Governor’s Island and definitely want to go back to the Island in the future. We hope you enjoyed reading about our experience and will go visit Governor’s Island for yourself soon.

Class 601 of John Ericsson Middle School.