When Gardening met Upcycling, it was love at first sight. Their children are the School Garden Fairies that turn outdoor classrooms into treasure troves of would-be trash, each object reimagined as a trellis, flower pot, bird feeder, stepping stones, or work of art.
According to hipcycle.com
- an online marketplace just for upcycled products - upcycling is "the process of converting old or discarded materials into something useful and often beautiful."
When it comes to facilitating a school garden program, this concept comes almost naturally. How does one acquire things that: look nice, fill a specific need, inspire creative thinking and natural inquiry, and don't cost a lot of money? The answer: use what you've got - or what other people might throw away - to create what you need. Upcyling projects also have plenty to teach about conservation, art, engineering, and the like. It is certainly not a new concept - in all likelihood, your grandma was probably a champion upcycler - and yet the feeling of ingenuity it generates is a delight for new learners.
Upcycling ideas are not difficult to come by - visit a fellow garden or type "garden reuse" into almost any search engine to spark your brainstorming session. Collecting needed objects can also be a great way to involve parents and community members. Projects can be extremely simple, such as making seedling pots from old milk cartons, or require specific tools and expertise that may be donated by a creative volunteer. (Check out the overgrown-bush-turned-picnic-table-base below!)
We have sifted through some of the best upcycling ideas we can find for this newsletter and put the overflow on our Pinterest page
, but we are certain there are more. Send us your best garden upcycle idea
, and we'll share it with the Wisconsin School Garden community!
Note: Before embarking on any upcycling project, make sure to do your homework - research the contents of any item you plan to re-purpose to ensure it does not pose a risk to the health of students or the surrounding environment. Tires are one item that has sparked debate among gardeners .