Wednesday, September 9, 2015

NOT JUST GROWING A GARDEN - A School Success Story, Part 2

Guest blogger and GardenShare student intern Anna Kowanko continues her story about Keene Central School's gardens and food services...

The KCS garden now lies behind the elementary classrooms, guarded by Giant Mountain. The beds run parallel to the soccer field is so integrated into school life that it has its own rules: a softball hit into the garden in the air is a homerun – on a bounce and it’s a double. But, the garden is protected, protected by the community, the tradition, and the ethic it has helped to create in the students and community.

Each elementary classroom opens up onto two 4’ by 12’ raised beds. Behind the Kindergarten baby pumpkins will be seen growing adjacent to the first and second grades’ corn, beans and squash. The third grade plants potatoes to make potato chips and fourth grade grows cherry tomatoes. Kale for chips will be seen poking out of the fifth grade plot, and the sixth grade focuses on carrots. As is, the garden provides some rhubarb, lettuce, garlic, carrots, cherry tomatoes, strawberries and asparagus to the cafeteria, though most produce is used in the classroom.

An After School Garden Club started by Bunny Goodwin meets one afternoon a week. They circle at the start and end of each session to talk about the garden, what they have done that day, and complete a journal entry, always snacking on something they have grown. Goodwin explains, “the garden is […] not a place where we try to feed the school, the garden is an outdoor classroom for all students, incorporating not just nutrition and physical education, but also math, science, history, language, music and art.” She believes that children will eat fruits and vegetables if they plant them, watch them grown, and harvest them. By the end of the season, children who previously would never touch vegetables were eating the ones that they had watched grow. And, by the time a student begins 7th grade, the sign hanging in the cafeteria declaring, “FROM THE KCS GARDEN,” means something.

(to be continued tomorrow)

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