Bolton Primary School’s “outdoor classroom,” the school’s garden, could receive a huge boost if the garden committee is successful in its quest for a grant from Seeds of Change. All that’s needed is a little help from the public, to vote Bolton’s grant request to the top of the list.

The school is in the running for a one of two $20,000 grants or one of 15 $10,000 grants from Seeds of Change, an organization founded in 1989 with the mission to make organically grown seeds available to gardeners and farmers while preserving heirloom seeds. Seeds of Change grants are awarded each year to organizations that support and develop sustainable, community-based gardening and farming programs that focus on teaching people where their food comes from.

This year, Bolton’s garden committee submitted an application explaining how the school would use a grant to achieve its goals of building a cohesive curriculum for preschoolers through fifth-graders based around its school garden.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Bolton students like fifth-grader Oliver Chapdelaine, left, use the schools garden for outdoor fun and learning.“This year at Bolton we dedicated seven of our early release Wednesdays to understanding the Next Generation Science Standards adopted by Oregon (schools),” said Bolton Principal Holly Omlin-Ruback. “From the support of our PTA, we were able to work with a science expert from PSU to help us delve into the concepts and unpack the standards to create solid units of study for our children.”

During that process, Omlin-Ruback said, committee members kept noticing how many concepts could be taught using the garden as a classroom and a tool.

“Currently we use our garden to teach some science concepts,” she said. “However, we know there is more we can do. As a team, we would like to spend summer hours and after-school hours working on developing those units.”

That’s where the grant money comes in. The garden committee would like to use the funds to compensate teachers and purchase materials for creating the new units of study.

“We have searched many avenues for curriculum/units of study that are already created, and we have not found any that we feel meet the high standards we have set for our students or that tie directly into the Next Generation Science Standards,” Omlin-Ruback said. “So, we think we can develop this for our use and for others to use as well.”

The public is invited to vote on grant proposals online at Visitors can vote once each day for the organization they feel most deserves a grant, based on the organization’s demonstration of how the grant would help it to achieve its goals.

The 50 organizations with the most votes from the public will advance to a final judging phase. Grant recipients will be announced on or about May 5. For more information, visit

By Kate Hoots
Education reporter
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