Students plant seeds for education
Published 12:00 am Friday, April 1, 2016
LaGRANGE — District 4 Public Health is coordinating a community garden at Hillside Montessori School.
The students will use the garden as a way to teach members of the community surrounding the school about healthy eating and sustainable environmental practices.
“Jenny Jack Sun Farm has been an invaluable partner with the Hillside Montessori community garden,” said Beth Daniel, health promotion coordinator of District 4. “Jenny Jackson has taught the youth how to work in raised beds and practice good gardening skills. Youth have learned to eat vegetables they normally would never have tried.”
Students will coordinate their annual Earth Day festival and invite their neighbors. The garden will be the focal point of the festival.
“The organic gardens have been such an asset to our school community. We have had small gardening projects in the past, but nothing as substantial as this,” said Bethany Headrick, director of Hillside Montessori.
Hillside Montessori faculty is using the Junior Master Gardner program curriculum to enhance the garden experience for the youth. JMG is an international youth gardening program of the University Cooperative Extension Network that engages youth in hands-on group and individual learning experiences. It aims to teach a love of gardening and develop an appreciation for the environment.
The curriculum teaches a range of horticultural and environmental education topics including science process skills, observation, taking measurements and problem solving.
“The opportunity to work with Beth and Jenny on this project has provided our students with real-life, hands-on lessons in working collaboratively, living sustainably and making healthy life choices,” said Headrick.
Students have planted kale, lettuce, romaine, spinach, radishes, carrots, broccoli, strawberries, garlic, onions, cabbage and beets. Students roasted kale chips for a healthy snack and made carrot pancakes at harvest time.
“Our students are involved daily with maintenance of the beds and plants, and we rotate watering responsibilities,” Headrick said. “Even if they don’t grow their own food in the future, they will understand the importance of making decisions that are good for both themselves and the earth, and they will carry with them the joy of watching a seed sprout, mature and grow into a life-giving fruit or vegetable.”