Tarrant County Master Gardener Association
Alice Carlson Elementary OLE

Alice Carlson Applied Learning Center is an elementary school located at 3320 W Cantey St, Fort Worth, TX. In 1997, the school decided to build an Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) on the site of its old, cracked tennis courts. The creation of the OLE was a joint effort of parents, teachers and students in every phase of development. Generous grants from the Rainwater Foundation and yearly funding by the PTA provide financial support for the project.

The OLE was designed to represent different ecosystems in Texas. It is planted with native and adapted plants selected to represent different regions and to attract wildlife. Teachers use the natural garden as inspiration for investigations in language arts, science, fine arts and math. It is also used by the Junior Master Gardener group at the school.

Although classes sometimes pursue applied learning projects in the OLE, their chief hands-on involvement is with the adjacent vegetable garden. Students plant, cultivate and harvest vegetables in the raised beds of this area. Master Gardeners help facilitate school projects in both the vegetable garden and the OLE proper.

The Carlson OLE has several rainwater harvesting systems. The largest, constructed in 2005, is a 5,000 gallon above-ground cistern collecting water from the roof of the gymnasium. Rainwater travels down a 300 feet pipeline to the cistern. Harvested rainwater can be used to feed the small pond or to water areas of the OLE. Because of elevation changes across the site, the system operates entirely by gravity flow.

Alice Carlson's OLE became a master gardener project in 2007 with Sharon Chastain as the project lead. There are about 12 Master Gardeners who regularly work in the garden. While the Master Gardeners continue to follow the original blueprint for the garden, laid out by a landscape architect, they have added many new areas and features over the years. The work days are Mondays and Thursdays. Start times vary according to the season.

Projects currently underway in the Carlson OLE are a rain garden and a fossil dig with a living roof.

Additionally, we do have a wonderful article on working with the children of Alive Carlson to develop vegetable gardens.

Project Lead: Cyndi Hill & Ginny Schmidt
Phone: 817-727-9799, 817-294-8529
Workdays: Mondays & Thursdays
Time: 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Directions: Click here for Google Map
TCMGA Activity Code: School Projects