School Garden Club Sows Seeds of Knowledge
Students at West Melbourne School for Science are learning valuable lessons about the journey food takes from seed to plate with their garden club. First grade teacher Jenna Meier decided to create the club with second grade teacher, Cassandra Powell. Mrs. Meier wanted the hands-on opportunity for students, as “Gardening is a way for children to learn about the environment and how to nourish their bodies with fresh food.”
Students plant and maintain the garden, harvest produce, and learn about the plants they are growing during their club meetings after school on Thursdays.
“I wanted to learn how to grow my own food,” said student Piper Hutchens. “I also really like being in nature and dirt.”
The Garden Club at West Melbourne School for Science had a mission to incorporate a sensory and reading garden for students. It was funded by a $2,000 grant from the Whole Kids Foundation, founded by Whole Foods Market. The club was one of more than 600 school garden projects invested in by the Foundation.
Part of the grant provided seeds to the club, while other crops were grown from starter plants. This year’s crop includes lettuce (bibb, red leaf, romaine, arugula, and kale), rainbow and purple Swiss chard, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, radishes, carrots, zucchini, mustard greens, and sunflowers.
In addition to the grant from Whole Foods Foundation, the Garden Club has also partnered with Food & Nutrition Services to purchase additional tools to tend the garden, and to utilize some of the harvested produce in the school cafeteria. West Melbourne School for Science students tasted bibb lettuce and kale chips prepared in the school kitchen during lunch, and they both were a big hit.
Club members are proud of their accomplishments and liked seeing it served in the cafeteria for classmates. During a meeting, they also tried broccoli stir fry they helped season, and zucchini bread prepared by Mrs. Powell.
Club members are encouraged to take produce from their harvests to eat at home and have been surprised by the size the produce has grown to.
“I enjoy learning what to plant during what season to eat it,” said club member Gianna Orcutt. The club is hoping to continue next school year and beyond, and hopefully inspire other schools to create garden clubs of their own.
Read more articles in our DIGITAL MAGAZINE.