Students get close to earth through garden project

Students get close to earth through garden project

Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2011 11:25 am
By: The Associated Press

The Messenger 03.23.11

The Gleaner
HENDERSON, Ky. (AP) — Faith Roberts was dragging her feet. It was Saturday morning, yet she was at East Heights Elementary School.
But this 10-year-old had a bounce in her step and dirt on her fingers.
That’s because there is quite literally a carrot at the end of her journey to plant an organic and environmentally friendly garden on the school grounds.
“This method uses 80 percent less resources than conventional row gardening, which is the most popular method of farming and gardening,” said Ryan Scott, a fourth-grade teacher at the school.
Along with third-grade teacher Jessica Williams, he’s overseeing the project that will also track the weights of each plant that is harvested to compare them to the prices at the supermarket.
“At the end of our year, our produce will be available to sample for the whole school and possibly the community,” Scott added. “As this is our first year, we are unsure of the amount we will harvest.”
The project was made possible through a state community education grant. Cindy Williams, community outreach coordinator for the Henderson County school district, said the Henderson County school district received a total of $5,500 in grant money that it could give to schools that applied for the funds to use for specific projects.
The learning garden at East Heights cost $450, which included the different types of materials used to create the soil, wooden planks that were used to build two 4-foot by 4-foot containers, nails and twine to form 1-foot sections in each container, and then the seeds.
Scott said that the students will also be able to talk about science and environmental issues such as water conservation and the use of pesticides/herbicides.
Meanwhile, once a mix of flowers are planted inside one of the boxes after the last frost, bees will help to pollinate and wasps will help kill detrimental insects.
Scott said he didn’t have enough soil to plant the crops in the second box, but that he plans to get the soil and plant those seeds soon.
As for the students, their work didn’t end on Saturday.
The student council will be in charge of watering, weeding and harvesting, which is one reason why Hannah Jones, the council vice-president, was there.
“I liked planting the seeds,” the fifth-grader said, adding that she’s most a fan of carrots.
Jones said that, over the summer, student council members and their parents will be in charge of taking care of the garden.
Meanwhile, Roberts said one of her favorite parts of the groundbreaking for the cold weather vegetable garden was the slow trudge she made to mix up the five different types of compost used for the garden’s soil, a third compost, a third vermiculite and a third peat moss.
“When I first heard about (the garden), I was real excited because I was wanting to get down and dirty and messy and just have fun,” Roberts said.
She has gardening experience, too.
Her grandfather grows tomatoes, and she has planted flowers and pruned roses before. In fact, Roberts said her family used to use the square-foot garden technique, too.
“I liked all of it,” she said. “It’s fun playing with your friends.”

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