Francis Scott Key Elementary School Edible Courtyard

Francis Scott Key Elementary School Landscape Plan

NDC Project #2574
Arbor Day Every Day
Design completed 2015.

Francis Scott Key Elementary School is located in District Heights, Maryland. One teacher in particular is utilizing the school’s courtyard year round as an outdoor learning space. Students are growing vegetables and learning about food preparation. The teacher wanted to diversify the food sources while providing valuable wildlife habitat and shade. To achieve this goal, the school worked with the Department of the Environment and the Neighborhood Design Center.

NDC was asked to fill the space as densely as possible with edible fruit bearing trees, while leaving enough space for some annual vegetable cultivation. The result was a diverse planting plan with all native trees and shrubs throughout the entire courtyard.

Students and the lead teacher were so excited to give their plants a good start that they planted in December. While December can be chilly, planting at this time of year prevents transplant shock, giving the trees a much better start than planting in spring. This project completely transformed the schools courtyard. The trees and shrubs will provide learning experiences as well as healthy, local food for many generations of students over the coming years.

This project was designed by Renee LaGue with support from Dana Puzey.