What started in 1987 as a small prairie garden in front of Dawes Elementary School has since blossomed into a large outdoor classroom containing raised beds for vegetables and herbs, a raspberry patch and a butterfly garden thanks in no small part to the work of Lynn Hyndman. On May 11, the former Dawes science teacher turned volunteer gardener was honored for her work at Dawes—and throughout Evanston—during a rededication ceremony and retirement celebration at the school.
“The Dawes School motto is: ‘Planting the seeds of respect, empowerment, and achievement, we nurture a passion for discovery and learning.’ I can think of no one who better exemplifies this mission,” said Dawes parent and garden volunteer Jeanine O’Nan Brownell at the ceremony. “Lynn has touched each and every student to go through Dawes. Her belief in the importance of outdoor learning, digging in the soil and taste education has impacted all of our children. She has introduced our children to kale, beet salad and cucumber-infused water. In doing so, she has planted the seeds of lifelong wellness and health in the next generation. This is her lasting legacy.”
Students at Dawes get the opportunity each year to plant, care for and eventually sample foods from the garden as part of the classroom curriculum. The all-volunteer-run initiative is supported by grants, and extends into the summer months, enabling the entire community to share in the experience. Some of the food is also donated to local food pantries.
Aside from celebrating the retirement of the Dawes Garden Founder, the ceremony served as a reveal for the new classroom space created in the center of the garden and a new mosaic sign to mark the site. A covered learning area was funded by grants from the Lincolnwood Garden Club of Evanston and the Highland Garden Club of Evanston. Labor was donated by Natalia and Spiro Polomarkakis, a Dawes family who owns a landscaping company. The fifh grade Art Club worked with local artist Hope Washinushi to make a mosaic sign for the garden. The artist-in-residency is funded by the PTA; Home Depot donated building materials for the sign.
Ms. Hyndman’s work will live on outside the Dawes Community as well. Through her work with SAGE (Schools Are Gardening in Evanston), she has started a total of 13 community-based gardens at local schools.
The space at Dawes has won several national awards including recognition by Slow Food USA in 2005 and recognition as a National Wildlife Habitat in 2016 by the National Wildlife Federation.
“What a beautiful and amazing send-off you have given me,” said Ms. Hyndman on retiring from her post as the garden leader. “The words spoken, the extraordinary mosaic, how you managed to quietly orchestrate this event. Best of all are the imagination and energy continuing to pour forth and ensure the garden lives on.”