A healthy harvest
Mac El Garden veggies come to classroom
By Eric Stoff, firstname.lastname@example.org
Maconaquah Elementary School fourth grade students had a healthy start to the 2016-17 school year last week. They were served fresh vegetables grown in their school garden and prepared in their classroom.
Fourth grade teacher Julie Bollman spearheaded a Mac El Garden program at the end of the 2015-16 school year. With the help of Garden Gate Greenhouse, Inc., Mac El PTO, First Farmers Bank and Trust, and Irving Materials Inc., the project came to life. Students helped plant vegetables in the spring and are now learning about harvesting and preparing vegetables.
“The students are very excited to see the results of their hard work in the spring,” Bollman said. “They retain information better when they are involved in a lesson that has a predicted outcome where they can see the results.”
Bollman said the school garden is a great Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) resource for all grades, and it helps demonstrate science standards related to plants and nutrition. Second graders study the life cycle of plants, third graders learn how natural materials meet the needs of plants and study plant development, fourth graders observe physical characteristics of living plants and their adaptation, and fifth graders study ecosystems.
Bollman prepared salsa, zucchini, and squash for her class last week using vegetables from the garden, and invited other Mac El teachers to use the garden as an educational resource in their classroom too.
Fourth graders Olivia Wilson and Alyssa Birner said they like that their school has a vegetable garden.
“I think it’s cool because they can bring (the vegetables) in and teach us about how food works,” Birner said, discussing the different ways vegetables grow and how to cook them.
Birner also thinks the garden will affect the way she eats.
“It shows me what squash tastes like. If I like it, I can eat it at home,” she said.
Wilson said she used to have a garden at home that contained both vegetables and flowers, and she is glad that students will be able to eat their own vegetables at school.
Jordan Ellis and Aiden Williams also said they were learning about vegetables thanks to the garden.
Ellis said he has learned “some vegetables grow as roots, and some grow on stems (above ground).”
Williams said he expected the vegetable garden to “save a lot of money,” and he was learning that more vegetables existed. He had never eaten zucchini or squash before last week.
After the summer harvest of the garden is over, Bollman said the students will help plant cool weather crops for a second harvest later this fall.