Miles Standish School Garden

Cleveland Public Schools began its horticulture education program for students, the first such program in the United States, in 1904, around the same time as the height of success of the Glenville Race Track, located between East 88th and East 101st streets. When Glenville Mayor Fredrick Goff closed the track in 1908, only the abandoned lot remained until the Miles Standish Elementary School was constructed in 1921. Other parcels of land also provided space for the construction of nearby Empire Junior High School. In 1960 a three-acre tract was allotted for Miles Standish Elementary School's horticulture program, under the direction of Dr. Edward T. Johnson. The garden was one of seven sponsored by the board of education. The Miles Standish school garden served pupils in the 4th-10th grades. The crops grown included corn, tomatoes, peppers, beets, cabbage, corn, and eggplants. Flowers were also raised in another part of the garden. The garden also had a high tunnel hoop house and its own water supply with a built-in irrigation system.

In order to participate in the school garden, students paid an annual fee of $1.25 (or $10 in modern value) for a plot. If the plot was successful, it could yield $25-$30 ($200-$240) in fruits and vegetables. Produce from the garden was also donated to the Eliza Bryant Jennings senior living home. In addition to working twice a week in the garden, where such duties include sowing, caring for, and harvesting fruits and vegetables from their plot, students also attended horticulture classes. Students learned how to prevent insects from eating their crops, as well as basics related to crop cultivation. Miles Standish Elementary School also held an annual Open House, with various themes each year. Some of the themes included "Garden City U.S.A.," "The Enchanted Forest," and "MSG Round-Up," the latter featuring a stagecoach and gardeners sporting cowboy costumes. The Open House also ran a competitive exhibition in which students could receive ribbons for their standout vegetables.

By 1979, many of Cleveland Public Schools' gardens were in decline due to financial strain and budget cuts. This led to the demise of the Miles Standish garden for a few years, until around the mid 1980s, when several community members brought the garden back as a community garden not so much for students, but for older Glenville citizens. As of now, the Miles Standish Community Garden still stands (next to what is now called Michael R. White Elementary School), cultivating not only crops, but a connection between the community's older generations and younger generations.

Images

Audio

Big Side, Little Side
Lilian Pyles explains the appearance of Miles Standish Elementary School, which was separated into the "big side" and "little side." The field, or "farmer's yard," was where the community garden was located.
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Tomato Sandwiches
Clara Nelson describes what made the tomatoes from her elementary school's garden superior to other produce. She explained the tomatoes were so juicy, she would make "tomato sandwiches" out of them.
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