Gardening at CCA


Madison Tonelli

Students enjoying the new outdoor classroom at CCAMS.

Madison Tonelli , Reporter

Clear Creek Amana is becoming more sustainable every day. One of the newest additions to our district is the outdoor classroom located at the middle school. This new area will be used for lots of things, with the hope of teaching students more about the outdoors. With a number of goals for what this space is going to be used for, CCA students and staff are excited to get it off the ground this spring. 

One of the main goals of this space is to help expand CCA’s agricultural, STEM, and nutrition programs, allowing crops and other produce to be grown on-site. This hands-on environment will allow students to learn more than they maybe do in just a normal classroom while also getting outside to some fresh air. 

Even after all these years with an amazing FFA program at CCA, students have not even had a garden area where students can use what they were taught in the classroom. With this classroom, the FFA students will get to start applying things they have learned in the classroom. The students will end up conducting trials on various vegetable crops and learning different garden techniques. As they start with these very simple tasks, they hope to modify the classroom, even more, to make it more interactive for the community. 

According to the Clear Creek Amana Outdoor Classroom Greenhouse Project, they hope to make signage educating the public about the common name and scientific name of the plants they will have. The authors state, “…the Clear Creek Amana FFA chapter hopes to someday have QR codes on each one of the signs, so anyone with a smartphone can scan the code and learn more about the plant.” 

During the past few months, and even in the past year, this space has been amazing for middle schoolers to use to get some physical activity. In the works for the physical education programs at the CCAMS, they hope to teach classes in the outdoor classroom once a week, if the weather lets them. The classes they could teach outside come in a wide variety, including traditional PE, yoga, meditation, and even an adaptive PE class. “Adaptive PE is a physical education class that partners a general education student with a student in our special education program.” This general education student would be a volunteer willing to work the whole year, and the lead teacher would step back and let the kids learn together. The main goal is that “they gain perspective, empathy, and tolerance.” 

Although there are numerous ways this benefits specifically our school, it is also a great opportunity for the small city of Tiffin, which is growing quickly. The outdoor classroom is located along a public walking trail that gets used by many people each day, along with the Springmier Public Library which is located on CCA’s campus. There is already some community involvement, but the real mission is to get the community more  INVOLVED. 

The Springmeir Library is excited to include programs outside this summer and even help give the food pantry a kick start again with some fresh produce. 

“This will be achieved through donations of fresh produce to the food pantry on school grounds and by incorporating the produce that is available during the school year into cooking classes,” says the authors of the Project Narrative. 

There are so many great things in store for this chapter in CCA’s sustainability adventure. Make sure to check out the outdoor classroom during the warm weather season, to hopefully learn some new things about our community.