BUGS: Boise city program uses outdoor garden as pre-school classroom

Posted at 8:45 AM, Sep 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-28 10:45:30-04

BOISE, Idaho — A city-run program in Boise is teaching some of the youngest Idahoans how to appreciate the great outdoors.

Most childcare facilities try to incorporate some outdoor time throughout the day, but at the Boise Urban Garden School, or BUGS, class is outside all the time.

"So we have three-quarters of an acre of a teaching garden out here," BUGS education manager Lisa Duplessie said. "Really it's an outdoor preschool; So they are out here all the time, enjoying the sun, rain, and snow."

It definitely isn't your typical classroom. The space at Comba Park features a pollinator garden, bee colonies, dozens of varieties of fruits and vegetables, and countless towering sunflowers.

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The curriculum at BUGS includes some of the basics, like reading books and learning about colors and letters, but the main focus is an appreciation for all things nature.

"You know there's nothing better than watching a child pull a carrot stem out of the garden and realize that carrot was underneath the dirt," Duplessie said. "I think for a program like this, we're really trying to ignite a spark; so really get them to start thinking about where their food comes from, start being good stewards of the environment."

And they don't have to look far. The learning garden produces 1,600 pounds of produce each year. It's used in city programs like full-time pre-school, after-school programs, and culinary classes for the entire family.

"We have a commercial kitchen on-site where we take a lot of the produce from out in the garden and take it inside and teach kids how to cook nutritiously with food from the garden," Duplessie said.

If you want to learn more about what programs are available click here.