Baldwin County School District held its inaugural Baldwin Grows Diversity Art Show on Wednesday, May 17th, as part of the Baldwin Grows Garden initiative. The project showcased an array of remarkable artwork and marked the official ribbon cutting for the new BCSD Aquaponics Lab. The event aimed to celebrate student diversity through the arts, STEAM programs, and agricultural education.
Entitled "Diversity in the Garden", BCSD Nutrition Department hosted the event which included performances by the elementary chorus and dance students, and the Baldwin High Culinary students featured food prepared with items grown in the garden. In addition, the event featured the unveiling of a new inclusion walkway that will allow wheelchair accessibility through the garden using bricks donated by various sponsors between the fields of raised garden beds.
Susan Nelson, Director of School Nutrition, explained, "First-graders all the way through high school seniors participated in an art contest and the winners had their artwork exhibited on 18 six-foot by four-foot banners." Nelson emphasized the transformative effect of art on the garden, stating, "It makes the garden come to life. The garden is more or less a sedentary type thing, but art has so much life to it."
The garden not only serves as a canvas for artistic expression but also provides a platform to explore the wonders of agriculture. One of the notable additions to the garden is its new Aquaponics Lab, a grant collaboration with Fort Valley State Extension. Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, the aquaponics garden is now fully operational, offering students valuable insights into the science behind aquaponics. Nelson emphasized the significance of the aquaponics lab, stating, "We've already had a lot of student visitors. They are participating in field trips to learn about aquaponics and the science of it all."
Part of the celebration involved culinary treats made from vegetables harvested from the garden, as well as musical and dance performances from Baldwin's Primary schools.
The Baldwin Grows Garden project, with its inaugural art project and the introduction of the Baldwin Aquaponics Lab, and inclusion pathway, has created a unique and enriching educational experience for students. By combining art and agriculture, the project has sparked creativity, fostered diversity, and brought the Baldwin Grows Garden to life.