Second grade students started growing radishes and lettuce in the classroom and tended the plants until it was warm enough in mid-April to transfer them to the garden. It was the responsibility of the students to water and weed the garden plants.
Second graders were involved because their curriculum includes some study of agriculture. Lessons about nutrition, composting, the plant growth cycle, measuring, and cooperation were enhanced by garden-related activities. Fourth graders also helped when they could because they were learning about gardens. The Food Service Director and one teacher were in charge of the garden this year, and only students and school staff participated in its care. Next year they will keep the garden the same size, thirty feet by thirty feet, and try to expand to involve more students and possibly some members of the community. This will lessen the amount of work for each participant.
The second and fourth graders picked the radishes and lettuce when they were ripe and then sampled them in the classroom. Cafeteria staff prepared the remaining harvest as free samples that were offered in the cafeteria, thus encouraging all students in the school to try new, fresh, locally grown foods. Some of the plants from which the vegetables were harvested were displayed in the cafeteria so that students could learn about them, too.
Radishes were offered for several days, and they were promoted via the school-wide announcement system. About half of the students sampled them, and quite a few said that they liked them.
The following were planted later in the spring: marigolds, sunflowers, red beets, tomatoes, basil, cantaloupe, oregano, carrots, and onions. In early June students planted peppers, beans, watermelons, and pumpkins. Plans have been made to plant strawberries when possible.
Summer plans include daily watering by custodial staff, and volunteers will weed, harvest, and clean produce that ripens during their shifts. All of the students’ families received a letter with a request for volunteers to help with the garden over the summer. Another source of summer help will be the staff and students who participate in summer programs at the school. Students who help in the garden during the summer months will be given produce that matures during that time, and they will be encouraged to take it home to their families.
Contact Person: Shawn Harlacher
Contact Person’s Title: Director of Food and Nutrition Services
Contact Person’s Phone Number: (717) 632-2500
- Students will create a garden that will provide nutritious food and learning experiences.
- Students will experience hands-on planting and caring for a garden.
- Students will sample a variety of foods from the school garden.
- Students should plant early so the produce can ripen in time for sampling before the end of the school year.
- When serving food from the garden, include a display of the plants from which it came.
- If garden care is too time-consuming, try keeping the same size garden for the future, but with more helpers.
Evidence of Success
- Students are excited about sampling the produce from the garden.
- The students enjoyed planting, caring for, and harvesting the garden.
- The kitchen manager enjoyed helping the students prepare the items for distribution.
- The staff is planning to grow an improved garden next year.