Moss Haven kindergartner Dylan Teague smells the rosemary held out by Marta Cordell, an American Heart Association volunteer. The Moss Haven garden is one of 68 American Heart Association teaching sites in the country. Photo by Can Türkyilmaz

Moss Haven moms have a reputation for being a force to be reckoned with. So when the Moss Haven Elementary PTA’s initial requests for a new outdoor learning garden were repeatedly rejected by Richardson ISD, unsurprisingly, the PTA didn’t take “no” for an answer.

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It wasn’t that the district’s associate grounds director, Phil Lozano, wasn’t interested in an outdoor garden. He championed the first RISD effort at Mark Twain Elementary, where condensation from air-conditioning units waters the school’s garden. “We have more water than we actually need,” Lozano points out. The challenge for Moss Haven was how to accomplish something similar. The solution is a 1,000-gallon galvanized steel tank with rainwater captured from a storage unit roofline. Lozano likes this setup because students will have to grapple with the fact that “when it’s done, it’s gone — what are we going to do?” Sustainability is key, not only the rainwater necessary to grow herbs and vegetables, but also the PTA essential to the garden’s creation and maintenance. RISD was so adamant about this that parents had to create an exit strategy for the garden in case Moss Haven parents who follow don’t have the energy to keep it going. (Not likely.) Parent Tiffany Walker is chair of the Moss Haven “farm” — a name that nods to the former Moss Haven Farm where the school now sits — and is ecstatic that teachers and students will have more time outside the classroom to stretch their minds and bodies. “[Teachers] don’t get to think outside the box very much because they have so many boxes to check off,” Walker says. She already has plans for an accompanying chicken coop, which will also require an exit strategy — one that includes putting the chickens down. But Walker says she and other parents are determined to make it happen within three years. Mark her words. 

Check out the video of Moss Haven Farm’s first day of planting.