By Adrian Higgins

We are living in uncertain times, but here’s something to lift the spirits: About half the schools in the District now have a garden.

The gardens are neither luxuries nor insignificant. To young, formative minds, these green spaces represent an introduction to the delicate and vital dance between nature and the city in a century when the two must come together in harmony as never before.

I stopped by Leckie Elementary School in Southwest Washington on a recent, blustery Saturday to watch an army of volunteers (including former Redskins players), teachers, students and nonprofit organizers put the finishing touches on a new school garden that will connect grade-schoolers to nature. It’s sweet to think that a 6-year-old planting a bean seed next spring might well be showing her great-grandchildren how to do the same at the turn of the next century. The Leckie garden’s elements include outdoor classroom spaces, a vegetable garden in raised beds, a grove of birch trees, a meadow garden, perennial beds and that essential marker of a working garden: the shed.

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Out Teach, formerly REAL School Gardens, provides professional development for elementary school teachers. Out Teach prepares them to use school gardens, outdoor classrooms, and green schoolyards to improve instruction through three-dimensional project-based learning, and outdoor experiential inquiry-based education. Professional learning with Out Teach improves hands-on science and STEM education through instructional coaching and digital education resources and improves 21st Century skills.